UNISON Northern Ireland


6th July 2017  – for immediate release
UNISON is appalled by today's reports that the Department of Education has instructed the Education Authority to cut the amount spent on school uniform grants by £3 million and extended schools funding by £1.5 million. 
UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said 'The absence of an Assembly and Executive is no excuse for the decision by the Department of Education and the Education Authority to further impoverish children in Northern Ireland.  The decision to cut the school uniform grant and other support such as breakfast clubs and homework clubs discriminates against working class families including the many workers who are living on or below the poverty line.  
Neither the Department or the Authority are above the law.  UNISON demands full public disclosure of the equality impact assessment of their decision to penalise children already suffering disadvantage.  We demand the full application of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act designed to promote equality of opportunity.  We also remind both bodies that the courts have required an Anti-Poverty Strategy based on objective need.  Children living in poverty already experience serious inequalities in health and educational outcomes.  Our public health bodies must step forward and condemn the negative impacts that cuts like these will undoubtedly have on our children's health.
When decisions about the future of our children are left in the hands of senior civil and public servants in the absence of Government the very least we expect from them is ethical behaviour and legal compliance.  We do not believe that either body can justify this decision and we call for its immediate reversal.'
For further comment contact UNISON on 028 90 270190