Written Answers - Exchequer Savings

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 717 No. 1

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  19.  Deputy Phil Hogan  Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan   asked the Minister for Finance  Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan   the savings for 2010 and for a full year from implementing recommendations of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes broken down between social welfare and non-social welfare savings and the associated reduction in public sector numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33912/10]

  71.  Deputy Phil Hogan  Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan   asked the Minister for Finance  Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan   the number of public bodies that have been merged or closed in line with recommendations of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes; the associated savings and reductions in public sector numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33913/10]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan): Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 71 together.

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was published in July 2009 and outlined 271 options with potential savings of up to €5.3 billion in a full year along with associated staffing reductions of over 17,300 in public service numbers.

Following the publication of the Special Group’s Report, which is advisory in nature, the Government referred the Report to each Government Department with instructions to examine recommendations relevant to their Department as a major input to the Estimates process for 2010. In parallel with this, my Department also closely examined the Report for the same purpose. Accordingly, the Special Group’s analysis and recommendations were taken into account in the 2010 Budget and Estimates of Expenditure. The formulation of policy in regard to the 2010 Estimates involved discussions and consultations between my Department and other Departments, as is normal. Implementation of all Estimates decisions, including those arising from the Report of the Special Group, is the responsibility of the relevant Minister and Department.

In summary, 41 recommendations have been implemented in full and 111 in part to date. Detailed information in relation to the recommendations implemented may be sought from the relevant Ministers. In aggregate terms, the latest calculations are that these savings will yield in the region of €2.2 billion in 2010 and €2.36 billion in a full year, with savings implemented [137]by the Department of Social Protection accounting for an estimated €730 million in 2010 and €780 million in a full year. On that basis, aggregate savings outside of those related to the Department of Social Protection amount to approximately €1.47 billion in 2010 and €1.58 billion in a full year. These figures include savings accrued as a result of the closing or merging of offices and staff reductions in specific areas.

Overall, public service numbers have been reduced by 11,000 between end 2008 and end June 2010. This is due to a range of factors, including the moratorium on recruitment and promotion, the introduction of a new numbers control framework as recommended by the Special Group, and Government priorities in regard to public service provision. In addition, the Employment Control Frameworks agreed by Government will see the number employed in the public service reduced to 306,805 by the end of 2012. The latest figures reported to my Department show a reduction of approximately 4,400 posts in line with the recommendations of the Special Group. The majority of these posts are in the Health, Education, Revenue and the Defence sectors. Given the variety of factors that affect public service numbers policy, it is not possible to determine accurately the total reduction in public sector numbers associated with individual decisions taken to date.

With regard to the rationalisation of public bodies, Departments have reported that 4 rationalisations of public bodies have been completed to date in line with recommendations of the Special Group. In addition, a number of decisions to rationalise further bodies have been taken in line with the recommendations and are in the process of been implemented. These rationalisation decisions are in addition to the 17 decision that have been implemented to date, in line with the Budget 2009 announcement on Agency Rationalisation, which have resulted in the rationalising of 23 Agencies and the closure of 4 Army Barracks. It is often difficult to make definitive savings projections when the functions of agencies and bodies are being transferred or consolidated. Such matters only tend to become clear at, or shortly after, the commencement of the implementation phase.

The Report of the Special Group will continue to be a central point of reference in the Government’s ongoing consideration of overall expenditure strategy and structural reform across the public service.


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