Education expenditure over £1.8 billion in 2007-08 says Ruane
The Sinn Féin Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane, today announced that expenditure on education in 2007-08 was some £1.87billion - the highest level ever.
Commenting on the figures the minister said:
"The level of investment in education has continued to increase on previous years with an additional £148million spent on the provision of education services for children and young people in 2007-08 compared to 2006-07. This is a significant investment in our children and young people - an investment which places an obligation on all of us to ensure that we make the best use of every penny of this for their benefit."
Expenditure on the current budget amounted to some £1,713million or 97.2%. On capital the overall level of spend was almost £158million or 81.6% of budget.
Commenting on the outturn figures for her department the minister acknowledged the importance of ensuring effective spend of the education budget, she said:
"It is important to ensure that budgets are fully utilised to deliver the services for which they were secured."
Referring to the £50million underspend on the current budget the minister said:
"I recognise that a modest level of underspend is prudent as bodies seek to manage expenditure within budget, but I also recognise the need for effective and robust financial management to ensure effective delivery against education budgets. We are facing challenges in a range of areas to deliver against ever increasing demands and we absolutely must make sure that we use all of the resources available to us."
But the Minister also cautioned about the need for a clear understanding of what these figures mean.
"Out of £50million underspent on current budgets, almost £17million is in relation to planned carry forward of budgets by schools under LMS arrangements and remains committed to those schools. A further £27million remains committed to the Education and Library Boards for education services."
The minister said that while the underspend in 2007-08 was lower than the previous year there remained scope for improvement. She said that her officials would be working to secure improvements in overall financial management and delivery in services both now and in the run up to the establishment of the new Education and Skills Authority.
On capital investment the Minister commented:
"Capital investment continues to grow in comparison to previous years as we continue in our objective to deliver a modern and sustainable schools estate. I am confident that the new procurement and delivery arrangements which are being introduced will help us to get schools projects started faster and more efficiently.
"During the past year I was pleased to be able to launch the building of a new technology and design block at Edmund Rice College and officially opened a new Home Economics suite at De La Salle school in Downpatrick. Looking after the needs of children with special needs is a key priority and I officially opened the new Harberton School, which will provide school-based and outreach services. I also opened a purpose- built support unit for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Coalisland and approved the establishment of similar units at two schools in Derry and Enniskillen.
These are the type of capital projects we need to help the professional teaching staff in our schools deliver first class educational services to all children and young people." ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Current expenditure refers to expenditure on items that are consumed in the current financial year. This would include the salary and non-salary costs of teachers and other employees, maintenance and other running costs.
- Capital expenditure refers to expenditure on items that are consumed over a period longer than one year. This would include new school buildings and improvements to existing school buildings.
- Under approved budgetary arrangements, schools and Education and Library Boards have the flexibility to carry forward unspent recurrent expenditure to future years.