Dickson cautiously welcomes additional Higher and Further Education funding in Spring Budget

Alliance Economy Spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has cautiously welcomed the announcement in the Spring Budget of an additional £40m for Higher & Further Education, but has expressed concern about the ability to spend it due to the lack of a functioning Executive.

Economy Stewart Dickson

Mr Dickson said: “I welcome the announcement from the Chancellor that Higher and Further education in Northern Ireland will receive additional funding of £40m. However, there is no mention of replacing the money previously available via the European Social Fund, and £40m is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.

“It is difficult to see, given the current lack of an Executive, how this money will be able to be spent. If we had functioning devolved institutions, the funds could be allocated to sectors that need it, and used to help promote apprenticeships in a scheme similar to that announced for England. Apprenticeships simply won’t survive here without meaningful funding.”

Mr Dickson continued: “Also, in order to access £80m of funding set aside for Levelling Up in Northern Ireland, we need to have a functioning Executive. This budget highlights the importance of restoring the Stormont institutions at the earliest possible opportunity, to facilitate the allocation of funds to areas and departments that desperately need it.”