Reckless €20m cut by FG to School Building is wrong
Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has criticised the cut of €20m to the Education capital programme which will directly impact on children who will now have to spend more time in prefabs, and said it was reckless of FG to raid the capital budget because of failures to adequately fund services.
Sen. Ó Ríordáin said:
“The capital budget for the Department of Education has been cut by €20m. It was supposed to be €942m in 2020 but instead €20m has been ‘reprofiled’. We are supposed to believe the spin from Government that this won’t impact on the school building programme.
“What we do know is that the school building programme was €622m in 2019, and that will now be cut by €2m to €620m. However most of the additional €20m that was profiled in the National Development Plan would likely have gone on school building just to keep up with increased costs.
“Construction inflation for 2020 has been projected at anywhere up to 10.5%. It was over 7% in 2018. That means the budget for school building has to increase just to keep building what was planned. In reality, the cut will see the mothballing of dozens of projects.
“This is a reckless decision by FG that will impact on thousands of children. With a growing population, increased building costs and ageing buildings that need to be refurbished this lost investment will have a real world impact.
“It also raises questions about whether this decision is due to the reprofiling of capital elsewhere for the National Children’s Hospital and National Broadband Plan.
“It is reckless of Fine Gael, and a direct blow to their economic credibility that they are plugging gaps in current expenditure by raiding the capital programme.
“The reality is that €20m was to be spent on school buildings next year. That will not now happen which will result in more children in prefabs.
“We also have existing schools that are urgently in need of maintenance, repair and retrofitting work. Once again children will spend the winter in damp, cold and inappropriate buildings because of the failure of Fine Gael to manage the national finances properly.”