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21 Jun 2005 : Column 961W—continued

School Buildings

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much investment in new school building in Northern Ireland there has been in each year since 1997. [5433]

Angela E. Smith: Since 1997, 201 major capital projects with an estimated capital cost of £1,044 million, have been announced for schools throughout Northern Ireland. This investment has been provided for the building of new schools, for major extensions and refurbishments of schools and for site purchase, where necessary. The figures represent the estimated capital costs of both conventionally funded and Public Private Partnership schemes and the spending takes place over a number of years following the announcement. The total investment is as follows:
Projects£ million

A further sum of £55.6 million has been invested since 1997 for the construction and development of new Grant Maintained Integrated schools. A breakdown of the funding that was spent in each year is as follows:
New schools£ million

School Exclusions

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many pupils were excluded from schools in the Province in each of the last 10 years; and what the reasons were. [5306]

Angela E. Smith: The information that the Department holds about the number of pupils expelled and suspended from schools is as follows:
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The reasons for suspension have been collected from 2002–03 school year and for expulsions from 2003–04 school year. Both sets of information are available onthe Department's website at However, the detailed suspension data for 2003–04 submitted by one of the five Education and Library Boards has still to be fully analysed. When this has been done in the near future, the information on the website will be updated.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the criteria are for determining eligibility for interface funding for schools in North Belfast. [5432]

Angela E. Smith: The criteria for selecting schools to receive funding was restricted to a small number of schools in the area which had been most affected by community difficulties, including on occasions violent incidents against both pupils and the school environment.

Small Businesses

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many small businesses given start-up funding by his Department in each of the past five years have since ceased operation. [5512]

Angela E. Smith: During the past five years, 746 businesses were offered start-up assistance, through schemes directly provided by Invest NI, and its predecessor agency the Local Enterprise Development Unit (LEDU). Of these, 57 are recorded by Invest NI to have ceased trading. The detail by year is presented in Table 1:
Table 1: Number of business starts offered assistance directly by Invest NI, and LEDU

Businesses offered
start-up assistance
ceased trading

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In addition to these, there were 10,895 new businesses provided with assistance through the Start a Business Programme (SABp) jointly administered by Invest NI and Enterprise Northern Ireland. Details for each year are provided in Table 2:
Table 2: Number of businesses assisted through the SABp

Businesses assisted through the Start a Business ProgrammeCeased trading estimate

Evidence provided by a recent evaluation of the programme indicates that 1,135 of those assisted up to March 2004, will have ceased trading. Figures for 2004–05 are not yet available.

South Eastern Education and Library Board

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many job losses among (a) administration staff, (b) school crossing patrol personnel, (c) classroom assistants, (d) teachers and (e) other ancilliary staff will be incurred within the South Eastern Education and Library Board Area due to the cutbacks the board have initiated; and if he will make a statement. [4071]

Angela E. Smith: Verifiable information is not available at this stage.

Special Educational Needs

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the primary causes of need of children in the Province with special educational needs are. [5307]

Angela E. Smith: The most prevalent causes of need in 2004–05 are as follows:
Number of children
Moderate Learning Difficulties20,295
Speech and Language Difficulties8,825
Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties6,942
Physical Disability2,244

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Voluntary and Community Group Funding

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures he is taking to place the funding of voluntary and community groups and organisations on a more long-term and sustainable basis. [5348]

Mr. Hanson: A number of Government initiatives have already moved to longer-term strategic investment in communities. Positive steps", Government's response to the report of the Task Force on Resourcing the Voluntary and Community Sector, gives a commitment that

This move towards longer-term investment will require change both within Government and in the voluntary and community sector. To help the voluntary and community sector with this change, I have established a Modernisation Fund" to promote change and strengthen the service delivery role of organisations. In addition, funding will be made available to support capital projects delivered through the voluntary and community sector which will help develop the physical infrastructure and asset base of the sector improving delivery of services on a more sustainable basis.

The Department for Social Development (DSD), through its People and Place" Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, is providing a framework for a longer-term, seven-ten year, approach to delivering strategic objectives. However, longer-term outcome focussed funding will take time to achieve and needs to be considered in the context of the budgetary planning process. DSD monitor and evaluate performance in moving towards longer-term outcomes with regular reviews at least every three years.

DSD continues to provide ongoing support to the voluntary and community sector this amounts to over £40 million across the next three years.

Hospital Waiting Times

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action is being taken to reduce waiting times for (a) orthopaedic and (b) orthodontic procedures in Northern Ireland. [5739]

Mr. Woodward: While there has been some progress to reduce waiting times for orthopaedic and orthodontic procedures, I am still concerned at the length of time patients have to wait in Northern Ireland and I am currently considering actions to address this. I hope to make an announcement on this shortly.

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