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EastSide Learning

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP 2:15 pm, 23rd January 2017

I think that would be the case. That was coming up under question 6. I thank the Member for raising the issue before we reach the 2.30 pm cut-off point.

There has been concern because a letter was put out by an EA official that is essentially protective notice. That is standard practice and happened, for example, two years ago when the budget was at issue because of the welfare situation. It is standard procedure when no budget has been set. Unfortunately, inferences have been drawn from that and, indeed, some have deliberately misinterpreted it. Let me be absolutely clear: first, there have been no cuts whatsoever to that budget; secondly, there has been no decision to make any cuts to it; and thirdly, there is no proposal or intention to make any such cut. That money is currently being allocated. I will have an opportunity to talk with the Committee as regards the wider situation. It appears likely that the budget will simply roll forward in the absence of a budget, which means that money will be spent in more or less the same way as before. This was a precautionary move that had to be taken and is in line with what happened in previous years. I want to give that reassurance because I understand that there is a lot of concern out there at present.