Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue says he’s deeply concerned by the Education Minister’s announcement that the Government is unlikely to provide funding for the Minor Works Grant in 2018.
Earlier this week the Department of Education announced the provision of grants for all primary schools in Ireland for 2017/2018. However, Minister Bruton said the building programme for years to come will be ‘challenged’.
Minister Bruton cited demographic pressures on schools and said: “Looking ahead to 2018, the building programme will continue to be challenged to ensure the availability of a school place for every child. In these circumstances, it will be late next year or January 2019 before we are in a position to determine the prospects of a 2018/2019 Minor Works Grant.”
Deputy McConalogue says the news will come as a shock to school principals and boards of management across Donegal and will force them to look at alternative funding streams to pay for works.
“While I welcome the fact that Minister Bruton has finally committed to paying the grant this year, I am very worried that he appeared to rule out the provision of the grant for 2018. This is simply not on.
“This grant provides funds for essential maintenance work as well as for buying equipment or furniture. The majority of principals across Donegal depend on this payment for the day to day running of the school – and it’s factored into the annual budget,” explained Deputy McConalogue.
The Department of Education has addressed the issue of uncertainty about the Minor Works Grant on an annual basis. It said the issue will be reviewed in the context of the Department’s long term infrastructural planning and the level of resources available under the Government’s 10 Year Public Capital Investment Plan, which is currently under development.
Deputy McConalogue said: “There has already been a serious delay in the roll out of the grant this year – it’s usually paid in November but the Minister only confirmed on Tuesday that it will be paid next week. While I welcome the commitment to pay it this year, we need a guarantee that it will be paid every year from now on.
“The only year that this grant was not rolled out was 2012, during the height of recession. It would be bizarre if, as the economy starts to turn, this were to be the key turning point at which the grant would not be paid.
“Fianna Fáil would like to see this essential grant, and others like it placed on a statutory funding so that it would be guaranteed. I will be calling for the Minor Works Grant to be included in the National Capital Plan so that there will be security for schools, and they will not have to depend on the discretion of a Minister”.Tags: