Post-primary reforms to be “cost-neutral”?

Judging by Stephen Farry’s performance on Stormont Live [BBC iPlayer] today the Alliance Party remains a party in opposition to the Budget, even if Mark Devenport thinks other opposition is vanishing. But it’s the SDLP’s Mark Durkan who points to a potential problem in the budgetting ahead. In an apparent reference to events in the Assembly, he says that the Finance minister told him today that, on the issue of post-primary reforms in the Education system, “the Minister for Education is saying that her proposals will be cost-neutral” [approx 1min 30s into clip below] – the Assembly’s Education Committee might be interested in hearing that..

Adds From the Assembly’s official report

Mr P Robinson: …It was as much the case when I was in local govern­ment as it is now that all that any Budget ever does is to provide the best judgement that an individual can make of what expenditure is likely to be during that Budget period.

That is all that we can do with regard to education. What the end process will be is still not clear, although the Minister of Education has indicated that many of the reforms that she has in mind are cost-neutral. However, the view of many Members is that to change the ages of schools will have a considerable impact, particularly on the capital budget for schools. Those are issues that the Executive will have to take into account and, in doing so, must take into account the parameters of the Budget.