Low income learners hardest hit in budget – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien
Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, believes cuts announced in today’s budget which effect education will have a disproportionate impact on learners from the more disadvantaged sections of Irish society.
Deputy O’Brien also believes that the millions of Euros to be cut from higher education budget will seriously hamper the opportunities for people to upskill and diversify.
He continued: “Funding for higher education institutions have taken a significant hit in this year’s budget with a €25m reduction being imposed on a one of basis in 2013 and a €13.2m reduction to be made in the allocations to VECs. We will await the detail on how these cuts will affect the delivery of further education but it will undoubtedly have serious implications for the future employment opportunities of people wishing to upskill and diversify.
“The reduction of income thresholds for the eligibility for student grants by three per cent is a continuation of FF policy and will prevent many more students from low and middle income families from pursuing higher level course.
“Likewise, the reduction to entrants to VOTS, Youthreach and FÁS training schemes will mean those on reduced rates of Jobseekers payments will no longer have their new payment increased to the maximum of €188 per week.
“This will be a serious disincentive to people wishing to retrain and will make participation in many courses unaffordable. It is a similar cut to the one that is being imposed by the Department of Social Welfare in relation to the Back to Education Allowance and the estimated saving of €17 million is being forced on the poorest sections of society who wish to return to education.
“The increase in the €250 to the third level contribution will mean students having to pay €2500 in fess which makes a mockery of claims by the Government that third level education is free. This additional hike will act prevent many students from low and middle income families from attending college and is both unfair and unacceptable.
“Finally, funding for capitation and related grants to schools in 2013 will be reduced by 0.5% for primary schools and by 2% for post-primary schools. When these cuts are combined with the suspension of the summer work’s scheme and the loss of the minor work’s grant then clearly a vital lifeline to many schools has been severed. It is a decision that will mean lessons being taught in cold classrooms and building falling into disrepair and additional voluntary contributions being sought from parents who are already pressed to the pin of their collar.”