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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 210-216
 Header Item Budget 2013
 Header Item Health Services Staff Issues
 Header Item Child Benefit Payments
 Header Item Departmental Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Croke Park Agreement Implementation
 Header Item HSE Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 210-216

Budget 2013

 210. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her views on whether Budget 2013 was a tough and unfair budget on young persons and youth services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55943/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth sector. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. Some 477 projects and youth services throughout the country receive support under the schemes. There are 1,400 paid staff and some 40,000 volunteers in local communities involved in the provision of these services and activities for young people.

Funding of €53.173m has been provided to my Department for the provision of youth services in 2013. Within this total funding, €1.75 has been provided in a new capital funding programme for 2013. This will include €1.5m for youth cafés and youth projects and €250,000 for play and recreation initiatives in 2013. My Department will be announcing further details regarding the application process for the 2013 funding programme early in the New Year.

My Department is working on the funding allocation for youth services in 2013. Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure my Department is seeking to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of any necessary reductions in funding. Youth organisations and projects will be advised of their 2013 allocations as soon as possible.

Going forward to 2013, my Department is developing proposals to streamline the existing five separate funding lines so that projects will receive one funding stream allowing more flexibility in setting priorities, managing savings and reconfiguring service provision. In addition, my Department will be commencing a formal Value for Money review which is expected to report by mid 2013. There will be no cut to funding for local voluntary youth clubs.

Health Services Staff Issues

 211. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the way more social workers will be appointed in 2013 in view of the reduction in the allocation for the Health Service Executive Vote for 2013 in respect of children and family services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55944/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The HSE has made considerable progress since the publication of the Ryan Report Implementation Plan in 2009 in the recruitment of additional social workers. Over 260 social workers have been recruited arising from implementation of the Report's Recommendations.

The Government has given approval to the drafting of a Bill to establish the Child and Family Support Agency. Work on the preparation of the legislation is proceeding as a priority and the intention is that the Agency will be established in early 2013. This will involve the transfer of over 4,000 staff.

I welcome the allocation of €546 million in the HSE vote for 2013 in respect of children and family services. This consists of €545 million in current expenditure and €1 million in capital. This level of budgetary provision for child welfare and protection services reflects the priority attached to the Government to this important area. The overall level of resources being provided will be increased further by the inclusion within the remit of the new agency of the budget of both the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board. Some final adjustments to the budget provision may be required on completion of a due diligence and disaggregation exercise which is currently underway within the HSE and which is due to be completed prior to the establishment of the new agency.

Once the Agency is established, the Chief Executive designate, Gordon Jeyes, will be responsible for the management of the overall combined resource. In this context he will have the discretion to fill vacant posts across all grades, including social workers, taking account of identified need and subject to services being delivered within available resources.

Child Benefit Payments

 212. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the way her aspirations for childcare will be impacted by the reduction in child benefit [55945/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The issue of Child Benefit payments is a matter for the Minister for Social Protection.

  My Department currently provides targeted support to parents to assist them with the cost of childcare. This support is provided through the provision of three childcare support programmes - the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, and the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.

  The CCS programme provides funding to community-based childcare services to enable them to provide childcare at reduced rates to parents in receipt of social welfare payments. Middle and low income working parents may also qualify for support. Parents who qualify for the top rate of subvention under the programme receive €95 per week towards full-day childcare costs. The CETS programme provides €145 towards the weekly cost of full time childcare places to participating childcare services for trainees and students who are deemed qualified by FÁS or the VEC. Students on part-time courses are funded on a pro rata basis.    

  The ECCE programme provides one free pre-school year to all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. Children aged between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 6 months at 1 September in the relevant year qualify for a maximum of 15 hours per week free pre-school provision over a 38 week period. This is a universal programme to which all children have access.

  In 2012, the total expenditure by my Department on these three programmes is expected to be in the region of €240 million. These programmes have been maintained despite the ongoing need to reduce Government expenditure and they represent a significant investment in supporting parents with the cost of childcare.    

  As part of Budget 2013, I announced with my colleague the Minister for Social Protection a joint school age childcare initiative which will provide further additional support to both the community and private childcare sector. This initiative, which represents an annual investment of €14 million, will provide important support to parents in low income families wishing to take up employment, along with ensuring that quality after-school care is in place to support children's development.

  Future developments relating to early years care and education will be considered during preparation of the new National Early Years Strategy which is currently being developed by my Department and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2013. This Strategy will cover a range of issues affecting children in their first years of life such as health, family support, learning and development and care and education and will identify the structures and policies needed to improve early year's experience in Ireland.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

 213. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if temporary promotions or acting-up allowances have not been a feature of the staffing arrangements for this EU Presidency, if she will confirm that her Department has been given sanction to make such arrangements detailing the number by grade involved, and the date sanction was sought and the date it was given. [56294/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The information requested by the Deputy is set out as follows:

Grade
Acting up Position
Sanction Sought from DPER
Sanction Received from DPER
Higher Executive Officer
Assistant Principal Officer
28th May 2012
30th May, 2012

Croke Park Agreement Implementation

 214. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the details of his proposed pay related savings of €308 million in 2013; the way this saving will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55698/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Government is committed to maximizing the savings under the Public Service Agreement (PSA). To date, there have already been very significant efficiencies and savings achieved under PSA in the Health Sector. A total of €308 million in pay-related savings has been targeted for the health services in 2013. These savings will be achieved under three separate headings, firstly by intensifying the implementation of the Public Service Agreement within the health services, secondly through the negotiation of an agreement on further workplace change and savings with public sector unions, as has been proposed by Government, and thirdly through further reductions in staffing numbers in 2013.

Required measures under the PSA include new rosters in hospitals, changes in skill mix in nursing homes, the implementation of the recent agreement reached with Hospital Consultants, a significant reduction in overtime and agency spending and a reduction in management grades. Pay savings are also targeted from the reconfiguration of service models in hospitals, disability, mental health and children and family services.

The Government has initiated discussions with the Trade Unions on a new agenda for improvements in the productivity of public servants and reductions in the cost of delivery of public services. Detailed engagement is expected to commence early in 2013, under the leadership of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

HSE Expenditure

 215. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the proposed saving of €160 million in the cost of drugs and other prescribed items is a gross or a net figure; the estimate for the cost of new drugs being prescribed in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55699/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Following intensive negotiations involving the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA),  the HSE and the Department of Health, a major new deal on the cost of drugs in the State was concluded in October last. It will deliver a number of important benefits, including

  - significant reductions for patients in the cost of drugs;

  - a lowering of the drugs bill to the State;

  - timely access for patients to new cutting-edge drugs for certain conditions; and

  - reducing the cost base of the health system into the future.

  The gross savings arising from this deal will be in excess of €400 million over three years. €210 million from the gross savings will make available new drugs to patients over three years. Thus, the deal will result in a net reduction in the HSE expenditure on drugs of about €190 million. The cost of new drugs in 2013 is estimated at €70 million.

Departmental Expenditure

 216. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide details of the €60 million savings on the Department Vote announced in the Expenditure Report 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55700/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The adjustments to the Department of Health Vote, Vote 38, are set out in the Budget book published last week and available on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Department of Health Vote is being reduced by €90 million. This arises from a range of measures. Even allowing for additional expenditure related to the EU Presidency, there will be a reduction in the Department’s Administrative Budget. There will be savings on the National Treatment Purchase Fund and €25m of its budget will be transferred to the HSE for use in an Intervention Fund. There will also be a range of further reductions, including a reduction in funding to health agencies.


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