A decision to slash £3m worth of funds put in place to allow struggling parents to buy school uniforms has been reversed.
Earlier this month the Education Authority said that it had been instructed by the Department of Education to cut the budget for the Clothing Allowance Scheme from the £4.9m spent in 2016/17 to £1.9m for 2017/18.
Around 98,000 pupils across Northern Ireland receive a grant to help with school uniform costs – with the amount on offer ranging from £35.75 for a primary school child up to £56 for a post-primary pupil over the age of 15.
Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan said that she had met with the Education Authority earlier today, and that she was “delighted” the body had made the decision to reverse the cut.
“The school uniform grant is a vital resource for many families and makes a real impact on the lives of thousands of children… this news will provide some reassurance to parents as the processing of applications normally takes place in August,” she said.
The BBC has reported this evening that the decision to reverse the cuts comes as a result of an interim budget put in place by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire, who allocated an additional £30m in funding for education in the absence of a functioning Executive.
The decision was also welcomed by Ulster Unionist education spokesperson MLA Rosemary Barton who said: “I would be disgusted if support for our schoolchildren was used as some kind of tactic in a failed attempt to influence the political situation at Stormont.
“I obviously welcome this last minute reprieve, but I fear it is only a matter of time before the next big reduction to public services is announced.”