§ Lord Laird
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 1 December (WA 5) concerning Northern Ireland departmental budgets, why the Department of Education underspent by £51.9 million in 2003–04; and [HL306]136WA
In view of the underspend of £51.9 million by the Northern Ireland Department of Education in 2003–04, what support the department is providing to education boards in financial difficulties. [HL325]
§ Baroness Amos
The provisional 2003–04 underspend comprises £26.1 million capital funding, which relates to the school building and capital works programme and could not be vired into resource budget, even if it were not already fully committed. The balance is £25.8 million resource funding and relates primarily to surpluses that schools have carried over in their budgets to the following year under LMS. These funds remain fully committed to projects in education and are not available for other purposes. There is therefore no question of these funds being held back from education and library boards.
My department is meeting regularly with those boards in financial difficulties to provide them with advice and support in addressing their financial problems.