We are finalising preparations for letters to all schools, which will, hopefully, issue by the end of this month. The Member will appreciate that we have to run quite a complicated formula, taking into account any changes to the schools' pupil intake etc. Then we will notify schools of their exact budget for the coming financial year.
Does the Minister recognise the stresses that school governors and management teams have been under? Given the significant rise that he received following approval by the Executive of the Department of Finance and Personnel's proposal, will he adjust school budgets significantly upwards from the original proposal?
The Member is aware that I announced £80 million for the aggregated schools budget — the global amount — which is an increase of about 0·2% in funding for the next financial year. However, each school's budget is based on a much more complicated formula that has to be run for 1,138 schools before they can all be informed in due course. I remind the Member and the House that the year ahead for education is still a very difficult one. Difficult decisions have yet to be made. It will prove to be a very difficult year for schools, the Education Authority and any other body attached to education. I welcome very much the decision by the Executive to increase funding to education, but all Departments are dealing with a uniquely difficult financial environment.