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INTO condemns the non-payment of the minor works grant to schools and calls for its immediate payment

Monday, 27 November 2017

Press Release Sheila Nunan, General Secretary, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation on school funding

INTO condemns the non-payment of the minor works grant to schools and calls for its immediate payment

The INTO today strongly criticised the non-payment of the minor capital works grant to primary schools. The union described the failure to pay the grant to maintain school buildings as indefensible.

Sheila Nunan general secretary of the INTO called on the Minister to clarify without delay that the money would be paid to schools this year. She said schools could not plan effectively to maintain and upgrade their buildings and equipment without certainty that the money would be paid. The union said repeated requests to the Department for details of a proposed payment date had met with no response.

Ms Nunan said the funding was urgently required to ensure that schools could carry out necessary repairs and improvements to school buildings and grounds, improve or replace mechanical and electrical services, buy necessary furniture, physical education equipment or computers and other IT related equipment. “The grant allows schools to carry out minor works directly and maintain the fabric of their buildings and facilities,” said Ms Nunan. “The commitment of Boards of Management and school principals in putting the grant to effective use over the years is widely recognised.”

Recently in the Dáil the Minister for Education and Skills announced the Minor Works Capital Grant for the 2017/2018 school year would be “considered” in the context of the Department's overall capital position over the coming weeks. Ms Nunan siad with a quarter of the school year gone the least principals were entitled to was the courtesy of a definitive statement. She said vague commitments were no use to principals with school accounts dropping into the red.

The Minister also told the Dáil that good budgeting by Boards of Management would help ensure that funding and grants received during the year are managed to cater for costs arising throughout the school year. Ms Nunan said the first step in budgeting is knowing what money is available. She said grants and funding had to be received before budgeting could take place. “Without funding, or knowledge of when funding will be made available schools cannot plan.”

The annual cost of the grant is less than 30 million euros and is funded from the capital budget provided to the Department of Education and Skills. Ms Nunan said many schools were in a very precarious financial position and needed the funding to ensure that vital repairs and upgrades could go ahead.

Ms Nunan said any failure to fund on-going repairs and maintenance of schools would be a significant error and ultimately a waste of taxpayers’ money. ENDS