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Northern Ireland education body's £100k bill for lunch

By Stephanie Finnegan

The Education Authority spends more than £30,000 per year on teachers' lunches despite recent budget cuts within the public sector, it has emerged.

C2k, the information and communications network operated on behalf of what were the five Education and Library Boards, spent more than £100,000 on catering in the past three years alone, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

In the 2015/16 financial year, the overall expenditure on C2k catering services, which includes lunch, food and drinks, totalled £33,000.

A year earlier (2014/15), it totalled £37,300, and in 2013/14 it was £33,300.

That is an average of over £34,500 per year spent on lunches at C2k.

The Department of Education's final budget report for 2015/16 stated it needed to make a whopping £97.6m of savings in order to be able to deliver key objectives and live within that year's budget.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said: "At times of difficult financial circumstances it is important that all money is directed to the front line services which impact our children most."

The Department of Education said: "The minister is acutely aware that all areas of spend across the education sector need to be looked at and, where appropriate, savings identified whilst minimising the impact on schools."

The Education Authority said: "C2k provides the infrastructure and services to support the enhanced use of ICT in schools across Northern Ireland.

"Throughout the year C2k hosts and delivers a range of training events and conferences to support schools and engage teachers, young people, educational partners and stakeholders in this work."

It added: "The catering costs incurred by C2k relate to these events."

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