04/04/2014

Capital Expenditure To Increase – O'Dowd

Education Minister John O'Dowd has said the level of capital spend is to increase by more than 60% this incoming financial year.

The funding growth, which will stand at more than £183m, will allow work to continue on a number of major work projects and School Enhancement Programme schemes, as well as providing a significant increase in the budget for minor works programmes.

Minister O'Dowd explained: "Since my appointment as Education Minister I have sought to target funding towards improving the education estate. During the many visits I undertake to schools I am acutely aware of the challenges that poor accommodation can pose.

"That is why I am pleased to announce today that the Department of Education capital spend will rise to over £183million in the incoming financial year, with the vast majority of this being spent on construction projects. Despite the current challenging financial backdrop, this represents an increase of over 60% compared to the 2013/14 financial year, when expenditure stood at £113million.

"This will allow work to progress on the 51 School Enhancement Programme schemes I announced last month. It will also mean that work on 15 major works projects will be on site during the financial year."

The projects where construction work is scheduled to begin include Tanaghmore Primary School (Lurgan), Eglinton Primary School (Derry) and Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagain in Belfast.

For the minor works programme, the additional funds will allow for replacement windows, heating improvements and upgrade of security at Belfast High School, Newtownabbey and a new sports hall at Shimna Integrated College, Newcastle, to be carried out.

Mr O'Dowd continued: "This investment is good news for school staff and communities and will also help support the local construction industry. Above all, however, it is good news for the children and young people in our education system, who will benefit from improvements to their learning environment.

"I realise that there is much work still to be done and that challenges will remain; however I understand the importance of a modern learning environment and will maintain a focus on maximising the capital resources available to me."

(JP)

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