Review of 2010/11 Spending Plans
The overall aim of the Department is to promote learning and skills, to prepare people for work and to support the economy. In pursuing this aim the key objectives for the Department are:
- To promote economic, social and personal development through high quality learning, research and skills training; and
- To help people into employment and promote good working practices.
Delivery against PfG targets for 2008-09 and 2009-10
Since April 2008, DEL has made significant progress in respect of the achievement of the Programme for Government (PfG) Key Goals and Commitments and PSA targets which it contributes to. DEL has lead responsibility for two PSAs: No. 2: Skills for Prosperity and No. 3: Increasing Employment. These cover services to improve the skills base of the N Ireland workforce and to help people fulfil their potential and enhance their employability in difficult economic circumstances. Significant improvements achieved since 2008 include:
- Increasing the number of PhD research students by 200 and strengthening the research capacity of the universities;
- By September 2009 helping 25,000 adult learners achieve a recognised qualification in Essential Skills;
- Enhancing the degree and nature of FE support to local businesses in the recession, and providing for a renewed emphasis in the curriculum on the economy;
- Improving our Apprenticeship programmes , increasing the numbers and introducing apprenticeships for adults ;
- Launching and beginning to implement the Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance Strategy, jointly with DE;
- Introducing Steps to Work - a new, better targeted employment support programme;
- Completing the roll-out of the Pathways to Work service, thereby facilitating the introduction of the Employment Support Allowance which replaced Incapacity Benefit in 2008; and
- Providing programme funding to the successful projects in the first call of the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2007-13.
- Increasing the skill level of people in the workforce including in management and leadership.
- Developing a new approach to dispute resolution in the workplace
Additional savings in 2010-11
DEL will take forward a range of measures to deliver the additional savings of £19.7million current expenditure and £9.0million capital investment next year agreed by the Executive.
As part of the Budget 2008-11 process DEL’s current expenditure baseline increased by £49m in 2010/11 and wherever possible the savings have been targeted at these growth monies, in order to protect the existing 2009/10 level of provision. These savings derive from smaller than planned increases and greater efficiencies in higher education funding, review of priorities in both employment support programmes and the further education sector and the examination of the outcomes achieved from current levels of support to external organisations with a view to achieving the same with less. The capital savings are being realised from changes in the level of funding for higher education infrastructure.
Improvements in Public Services in 2010-11
DEL’s draft revised Budget allocation for 2010-11 will enable it to continue to be at the forefront of the Executive’s response to the economic downturn. The ongoing implementation of the overarching Success through Skills strategy will underpin the Department’s delivery in respect of the specific PfG key goals and commitments and PSA targets to which it contributes. These include:
- Increasing the number of PhD research students at NI universities by a further 100 places;
- By 2011, 42,000 adult learners will have achieved a recognised qualification in Essential Skills;
- Increasing the proportion of Further Education enrolments that are on professional and technical courses to 90%; and
- Delivering a modernised employment service by 2011.
There will also be a number of infrastructure developments in FE Colleges across the region – including at colleges in Fermanagh, Downpatrick, Newtownabbey, Londonderry and Belfast. DEL will continue to complement the capital investment by both the universities and the two university colleges – supporting both teaching and research infrastructure.
Equality, Good Relations and Anti-Poverty Implications
As stated above, the additional savings to be delivered by DEL next year have been targeted wherever possible against the additional funding agreed as part of the original Budget 2008-11 process. The original spending proposals were subject to High Level Impact Assessments which found that over half of the spending proposals were deemed to have a positive impact from a good relations standpoint and none were deemed to have a negative impact. Hence the Department does not consider that the additional savings, agreed by the Executive, will have a negative impact, relative to the existing position, in terms of the Equality, Good Relations and Anti-Poverty implications