Belfast Telegraph

Education spending will benefit builders

By Steven McCaffery

An extra £23m to be spent on building new schools and repairing others is a major boost to the construction industry, business leaders said.

Sinn Fein education minister Caitriona Ruane confirmed she received £13m for her schools building programme under a reallocation of unspent Assembly funds, while a further £10m had been found to tackle the maintenance backlog in schools.

The Construction Employers Federation (CEF) welcomed the announcement and said that while it would boost the education sector, it would also have wider economic benefits.

"It will provide much needed work for the construction industry in these difficult times for our economy and will help to sustain employment, but it will also help to enhance the learning facilities for school children throughout Northern Ireland," CEF managing director John Armstrong said.

Mr Armstrong said smaller construction companies would benefit from the maintenance work.

"Every £1 invested in construction generates £2.84 in economic activity. Pound for pound, the taxpayer could not get better value for money than this sort of investment," he said.

The largest school projects to get approval are at Strathearn Grammar in Belfast and Bangor Grammar.

The minister said the additional funding would help get projects off the ground and would boost her long-term spending plans, making progress on 14 schools projects, with minor works carried out in many others.

The schools projects range in scale from £1.5m for St Joseph's Primary School, Madden, to £17.4m for Bangor Grammar over the next four years.

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