Education spending soars due to building costs, Ukraine crisis, Cabinet needs to be warned – The Irish Times

Department of Education to warn Cabinet of significant spending pressures driven by 21% construction inflation and impact of expanding services for special needs education and children fleeing war in Ukraine.

Education Minister Norma Foley is due to tell her Cabinet colleagues on Wednesday that spending at the end of September was 314 million euros ahead of what was planned, representing an overrun of 4 .7%. The information is contained in a quarterly report on spending presented to Cabinet on Wednesday morning, which warns that the overspending covers both current items such as salaries and capital projects such as the construction of new schools .

Ministers will be informed that the ministry’s base construction costs, based on the results of tenders, have increased by 21% in the year to June 2022. This comes as other Constructions are underway to support a large cohort of children with special needs, the firm will be told.

Ms Foley will say the ministry also faces a pressing need to manage the large number of children arriving unexpectedly from Ukraine and elsewhere.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien will brief the Cabinet on the Government’s flagship housing for all programme, which is also meant to recognize the impact of building inflation, which he says stands at 17 % over the year until the end of September. He will say a burden-sharing deal on government projects, which saw the state pick up 70% of cost increases, has buoyed activity.

Mr O’Brien will also brief Cabinet on plans to appoint the Construction Industry Federation to oversee registration with the Construction Industry Register of Ireland (CIRI).

Ms Foley will tell her colleagues that current spending is €144m above profile, due to factors such as substitute teacher pay and transport costs, and capital spending is over €170m. In total, the department had spent 7.04 billion euros by the end of September, or 78.5% of its allocation for 2022 of almost 9 billion euros.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will brief ministers on the creation of a new division of the High Court to deal with planning and environmental matters, which has been agreed in the government’s programme. The intention is that it should act on the same basis as the existing commercial court model. Legal sources have argued that creating a new court would require hiring more judges in order to have an impact.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan will brief the Cabinet on plans to attend the COP27 international climate summit in Egypt. Mr. Ryan will seek authorization to negotiate on behalf of Ireland and to participate in any agreements or initiatives that emerge from the summit. Ministers will be briefed on Ireland’s preparations and priorities for the summit, to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh from 6-18 November, and plans for engagement with developed and developing countries to achieve a comprehensive and balance.

Elsewhere, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath is due to seek Cabinet approval for new legislation revising thousands of pre-independence laws with the aim of scrapping outdated legislation. The Statutory Laws Review Bill is part of a process to have a modern statute book, which has reviewed 114,000 statutes to date. The proposed bill resulted from a revision of secondary legislation from 1821 to 1860.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman is due to brief Cabinet on plans already announced for a one-off cost of living payment to Tusla foster families.

Ministers will also consider High Court and Supreme Court appointments.

Christi C. Elwood