NIO must make budget decisions: Dodds

DUP Education Spokesperson Diane Dodds has expressed disappointment at the news that the Engage and Healthy Happy Minds programmes and School Holiday Food Grants are to be discontinued by the Department for Education.

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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Mrs Dodds said, “These programmes represent a relatively small amount of money in the overall education budget, but they have an impact that disproportionately outweighs that cost. I witnessed at first hand recently the impact of the Healthy Happy Minds programmes in one of our special schools through music therapy. That was making a real difference to those pupils.

Responsibility for decisions currently lies with the NIO and the need to make budget decisions. We have seen decisions taken before when there has been a will to do so. Certain areas have even received fast-track legislation through Parliament when it has suited the Government to do so.

In the longer term however there will also be a need to place education funding on a priority in parallel with the Department of Health. The Education budget has been underfunded for the past 15 years and we currently spend less per pupil than any other region of the United Kingdom. That is not a sustainable position.”

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