Speaking afterwards Mrs Dodds said, “The fundamentals impacting the education budget must be recognised, with the Education Authority predicting there could be a shortfall of £500million this year. There are particular pressures around Special Educational Needs, which has seen its budget double in the last 8 years and will account for nearly a quarter of the entire Department’s budget.
I have been raising concerns in this area for some time now and making it clear that there is a need for Education to be recognised as ‘mission critical’ in budgetary terms in parallel with the Department of Health.
The scale of this challenge has not arisen overnight and there will be no simple or quick fix. Significant reform is necessary across many areas of our public sector but that in itself will require Treasury to recognise the challenges we face in Northern Ireland. We want to see devolution restored as quickly as possible, and whilst everyone knows the issues that prevent this, a restored Executive would require resources to deliver the scale of reform necessary across our public services.”