Belfast Telegraph

Empey: jobs body will cope despite cutbacks

Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey believes his department should be able to cope with the demands placed on it by the recession despite cuts to its budget.

The Minister yesterday outlined his revised spending proposals for 2010-11 in line with the Budget cuts announced by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson last month.

Sir Reg said that the required £19.7m reduction in current expenditure and £9m cut to capital expenditure would still allow the Department of Employment and Learning to increase expenditure.

DEL’s current budget had been due to increase by £48.6m as part of the 2008-11 budget, and will still increase by £28.9m under the revised proposals, up 3.7% from last year.

The Minister said: “Whilst overall my Department’s current expenditure budget will increase, there is no doubt that the reduction required means that I will not be able to achieve all that I had planned. I have, however, ensured that the allocation of the additional savings will still allow us to be at the forefront of the Executive’s response to the economic downturn; helping people increase their chances of finding work and supporting companies in upskilling their workforces.

“The growth available to the Employment, Skills and Further Education budgets has been reduced by £6m. However, my proposals for this area mean that we will still be spending £17.4m (5.1%) more than last year. This should enable the employment service to respond to the increasing demands being placed on it and for my Department to continue to respond to the harsher effects of the economic downturn and support the retention and acquisition of skills in the economy.

“It will also enable me to at least maintain the funding for the Further Education sector at current levels.”

Belfast Telegraph