Budget 2023 cuts the cost of education to help pupils, students, and their families, according to the Chair of the Oireachtas Education Committee Paul Kehoe TD, and the Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Education Senator Aisling Dolan.
Deputy Kehoe said: “Budget 2023 is a Cost of Living Budget, designed to help you and your family, with measures for the most vulnerable and the squeezed middle. One of the key priorities is to help reduce the cost of education”.
Senator Dolan said: “My colleague Minister Josepha Madigan has secured the largest ever Special Education Budget in the history of the State of €2.6 billion, a 10% increase on last year. Fine Gael committed to prioritising Special Education in this Government appointing Minister Madigan as the first ever Minister of Special Education and Inclusion and that commitment is clear in this year’s Budget.
“It allows for an additional 370 new Special classes, meaning over 2,000 more children will have access to a place and a substantial increase in the budget for the NCSE, who will see their grant increased by nearly €13 million, almost double their annual budget. The number of Special Needs Assistants will grow by nearly 1,200 achieving Minister Madigan’s commitment of well over 20,000 SNA’s for the first time ever, almost double the number of SNA’s in 2011 when Fine Gael came into office.
“This Budget also reduces the teacher pupil ratio by 1 at primary school with over 660 teachers for primary and post-primary schools which will really support schools fighting for teachers especially in rural schools.
“We are also helping students and families with the cost of going to college, by both cutting fees and raising the student grant. The Student Contribution Fee will be reduced by between €500 and €1,500 for 58,000 families from next year on and in a special recognition of the rising cost of living it will be reduced by €1000 in this academic year. This will help 96,000 families.
“We are also cutting fees for apprentices this year too. We will increase all student grants from January and recipients will get a double payment this December, as well as an increase in stipends for PhD students. With supports for an additional 4,000 apprenticeship places, there will be a range of career choices and ways to reach a qualification through earning & learning for young people”.
Deputy Kehoe concluded: “The Government is also helping the education sector to cope with rising costs. €100 million is available in 2022 to ensure schools are supported in dealing with the energy cost pressures they will face in the months ahead, and to support school transport providers. An additional €10 million will also be provided for further and higher education institutions.
“Aside from the education measures, this cost-of-living Budget is putting more money back in your pocket by cutting income tax, increasing pension payments, and increasing welfare payments for families, people with disabilities and carers. We are helping you and your family with the cost of living in areas like childcare, public transport, and saving up for your first home.
“All of this is possible thanks to the strong economy under Fine Gael, and we are also putting aside a Reserve Fund of €2 billion this year and €4 billion next year to protect Ireland from unexpected future shocks”, he concluded.