26/07/2017

Plans To Cut School Uniform Grant Reversed

A decision to cut the school uniform grant has been reversed, the Department of Education has confirmed.

Plans to cut the grant were announced earlier this month, however after concerns were raised the grant for the 2017/18 school year will remain the same as 2016.
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A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: "This decision will allow the Education Authority to make payments to families at the existing rates. The Department continues to deal with major financial pressures and explore a range of measures which would allow it to live within the indicative 2017/18 budget. Following the Secretary of State's written statement last week on Northern Ireland departments' budget allocations, the Department has been able to finalise decisions on budget allocations across a range of programmes including deciding to maintain funding for the uniform allowance at current rates. The Department will be issuing allocation letters to relevant organisations in the coming days."

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan welcomed the decision.

She said: "Sinn Féin opposed this cut since it was announced as it was an attack on children and families from low-income communities.

"We demanded that the Education Authority reverse this cut so I am delighted that it has now done so. 

"Our party leader in the north Michelle O’Neill stressed the unjust nature of this cut to the Interim Head of the Civil Service and why in her view it should be reversed immediately in order to afford families this critical assistance. 

"The school uniform grant is a vital resource for many families and makes a real impact on the lives of thousands of children.

"Sinn Féin Minister Caitriona Ruane introduced the primary school uniform grant and her successor John O'Dowd extended the criteria allowing thousands more pupils to benefit.

"This news will provide some reassurance to parents as the processing of applications normally takes place in August."

(CD)


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