Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has said it is time for the Government to put the Minor Works Grant Scheme on a guaranteed multi-annual basis to allow schools to professionally plan maintenance works.

The Minor Works Grant provides funding for the constant upkeep and maintenance of schools. The scheme has been consistently underfunded by the Government in recent years which has led to schools having to forgo essential maintenance work.

Deputy Byrne said, “Today the Government announced details of a €28.5m fund for the Minor Works Grant Scheme for primary schools throughout the country. This is a positive development and Fianna Fáil has been calling for the Government to commit funding for the scheme for some time now.

“However it’s not acceptable that school principals and boards of management to be left in the dark each year regarding the availability of funding for minor works. It has proved difficult for management in schools to adequately plan repair and upgrade works due to a lack of information coming from Government. Minister Bruton waited until the very last minute before announcing the scheme, following significant pressure being put on him from Fianna Fáil TD’s.

“I believe the scheme should be placed on a guaranteed footing linked in an automatic way to the annual capital depreciation costs that each school incurs. This will allow for proper planning to take place and will avoid the current situation where many schools have been forced to run up huge debts in years where they fail to secure a grant. It’s unacceptable that many schools are essentially being punished for carrying out essential works such as roof and toilet repairs after they fail to secure funding under the grant scheme.

“It makes perfect sense to place capital funding for minor works on a multi-annual basis. This will ensure funding predictability and gives school the confidence to undertake remedial works as required rather than waiting until a crisis emerges.

“While this would deprive Fine Gael of a political point scoring opportunity, it would nonetheless reduce school maintenance expenses and decrease the need for schools to ask parents for voluntary contributions to pay for essential maintenance works.”