Foley holding out on budget approval, seeking funding for extra special needs assistants

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Minister for Education Norma Foley is refusing to sign off on her department’s Budget 2022 allocation in the hopes of securing additional funds for at least 1,000 extra special needs assistants (SNAs) and hundreds of special education teachers.

According to the Irish Examiner, Ms Foley is the last minister to finalise her allocation ahead of Tuesday’s budget announcement.

Despite a €7 billion improvement in the budget deficit over the last number of weeks, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath insisted there will be no last minute spending “splurge”.

Mr McGrath and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe wish to “hold the line”, determined not to exceed the €4.7 billion spending package previously outlined.

Mr McGrath is due to meet with Ms Foley later today to discuss funds for Deis schools and special education.

As the Examiner reports, a senior source said Ms Foley is “fighting hard” hard for 1,000 extra SNAs and “more if she can get it”.

Also in education, it is understood Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has secured an increase in the student grant which will increase the rate of Susi payments for third-level students while also widening the eligibility criteria.

Among the other measures expected to be announced on Tuesday is a €5 increase to the State pension and all core welfare benefits, and an increase in the minimum wage from €10.20 to €10.50.