Education Minister in danger of losing millions, reveals Armstrong

The Education Minister is in danger of losing tens of millions of pounds designed to reduce pressures on his Departmental budget, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has discovered.

The Minister was granted a £50 million capital investment for new capital builds for integrated and shared education as part of the Fresh Start Agreement. However, responding to a written question from Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong, Minister Peter Weir revealed he was only due to spend £3 million of the total before the end of the financial year in March 2017.

The Alliance MLA said it was “staggering” the money may not be used to fund much-needed capital builds.

“In the Minister’s response, he states he is working closely with the Education Authority to progress the Fresh Start Agreement programme of new capital builds for schools. However, like many aspects of the so-called Fresh Start, it has not lived up to its billing by the Executive parties.

“There remains a risk of losing £47 million due to underspend. That is £47 million that would otherwise be spent on vital integrated and shared education. That is unbelievable, given the much-publicised lack of funding throughout the sector.

“There are many questions surrounding this matter – what is happening with the extra money? Is it gone for good? As many Departments are crying out for money, it is staggering this huge amount is potentially going to waste.”

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