My aim for Budget 2020 is to progressively deliver on the commitments set out in the Programme for Government, the Confidence and Supply Arrangement and my Department's Statement of Strategy and Action Plan, and to meet demographic and demand pressures.
Over the past number of years, the Government has invested significant additional resources in education and training, which has delivered thousands of extra teaching and Special Needs Assistant posts in our schools, increased investment in higher education, expanded apprenticeships and traineeships, increased capitation in schools, enhanced supports for school leadership and improved the staffing schedule in primary schools.
In looking at the competing demands for the next Budget, I must have regard to the level of resources which will be available to my Department, in the context of the continuing need for the Government to prudently manage the economy and the public finances and have regard to risks, including those associated with Brexit.
The economic, fiscal and budgetary context for these decisions have been set out in the 2019 Summer Economic Statement, which was published on 25 June by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. This includes a framework that involves a budgetary package of €2.8 billion for 2020, which includes €1.2 billion pre-committed for current expenditure, as follows;
- Demographics - €0.5bn in the areas of Health, Social Protection and Education
- The Public Service Stability Agreement - €0.4bn
- Carryover costs of certain Budget 2019 current expenditure measures amounting to €0.3bn in the areas of Health, Housing, Justice, Education and Social Protection.
The pre-budgetary position for my Department, including the allocation for demographics, will be confirmed when the 2019 Mid-Year Expenditure Report is published by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. My Department has not yet finalised its detailed 2020 allocation request, and will submit this to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as part of the Estimates process for 2020.
It is in this context that I will formulate specific budgetary priorities, having regard to the views of the education partners and all concerned stakeholders.