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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 128-135
 Header Item Health Services Reform
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Appointments
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Social Welfare Code Issues
 Header Item Public Sector Allowances Review
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Increment Payments
 Header Item Rural Social Scheme Applications

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 76 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 128-135

Health Services Reform

 128. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide the underlying workings in support of the €70 million reduced professional fees in the Department of Health 2013 budget; and if he will set out the way such savings estimates were validated by his Department. [57393/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I refer the Deputy to the Minister for Heath who has responsibility for achieving the €70m savings target set by Government in the estimates by way of a reduction in professional fees.

It is matter for the Minister for Health to determine by regulation the appropriate level of reduction in professional fees for the different health professionals having regard to the state of the public finances and the other factors set out in Section 9 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 following a 30 day consultation process with the relevant interests.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 129. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the consideration that will be paid to employment when the capital budget for 2013 is profiled by month; if he will consider measures to accelerate capital spending when appropriate in order to promote and prioritise employment. [57394/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The monthly profiling of capital expenditure is carried out by individual Departments on the basis of the likely timing of payments related to capital projects and programmes which they deliver within their annual capital allocation. Job creation is not a factor of the profiling exercise. Queries in relation to the profiling of capital allocations are a matter for individual Ministers and their Departments.

While my Department is not responsible for the profiling of capital expenditure it does set the overall expenditure allocations of Departments which includes setting the five year multi-annual capital envelopes. Following a Government-wide review of the public capital programme, the five year envelope out to 2016 was set in November last year; this was slightly adjusted in Budget 2013 to address pressures relating to contractual commitments, drawdown of EU funding, replacement of Garda vehicles and to allow for the progression of a new children's detention facility at Oberstown.

There will, of course, be direct employment benefits in the delivery of the infrastructure proposed in the Investment Framework and most importantly from the contribution that this capital investment makes to providing the capacity for the economy to grow. In this context, supports to the enterprise sector through agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and the IDA were protected in the review of the Public Capital Programme. The unprecedented level of investment over the past few years delivered through the Enterprise Development Agencies helps to foster sustainable and valuable employment in the exporting sectors of the economy which will be critical to recovery.

Departmental Appointments

 130. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the process involved in the appointment of a person (details supplied) as legal adviser to the Government reform unit and statute law revision programme director of his Department; the nature of the financial arrangement with this adviser, including costs per hour or per day; if he will provide in tabular form, the amounts invoiced by this advisor in 2011 and to date in 2012, and the topic or issues covered in the advice provided for each invoice; if a procurement process took place, and if so, the criteria used; the weightings that were attached to these criteria; the number of tenders, proposals or quotations that were received; the number of tenders, proposals or quotations that were scored and the range of prices or costs quoted by tenderers.  [57532/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Following the identification by officials of the requirement for professional legal expertise to support the delivery of the legislative programme being delivered by the Government Reform Unit in my Department, a person was appointed on 26 March 2012 following an open procurement advertised publicly on e-tenders to act as adviser and as Director of the Statute Law Revision Programme reporting to the Head of the Unit.

  Three tenders were received in response to the RFT with hourly rates ranging from €111 to €350 and these were all evaluated by my Department on the basis of the criteria and weightings set out in the table following:

Criteria Weighting
Expertise, skills, qualifications and experience of the Tenderer 25
Experience of the Tenderer in providing similar services to those set out in this RFT 15
The ability of the Tenderer to demonstrate a clear understanding of the objectives of the Government Reform Unit, and how the Tenderer would expect to contribute to the delivery of the work of the Unit 25
Completeness, Quality and Credibility of Response 10
Costs and price 25
  

  The contractual arrangement is based on a cost of €111.00 per hour plus VAT for a maximum period 15 hours per week. The duration of the contract is 18 months. The amounts paid on invoices for 2012 are detailed in the table below along with the topics covered in the advice provided:

Invoice Date Amount Invoiced Incl. VAT Topics/Issues Covered
   
March/April 10,239.75 Oireachtas Inquiries
    Confidential

Communications with

Members of the Dáil
    Regulation of Lobbying
    Civil Service Accountability
    Statute Law Revision

Project
    Mahon Tribunal

Recommendation/

Ethics Legislation
    Protected Disclosures in the Public Interest Legislation
    Freedom of Information Legislation
    Ombudsman Bill 2008
April / May 10,239.75 Oireachtas Inquiries

    Confidential

Communications with

Members of the Dáil

    Regulation of Lobbying
    Civil Service Accountability
    Statute Law Revision

Project
    Mahon Tribunal

Recommendation /

Ethics Legislation
    Protected Disclosures

in the Public Interest

Legislation
    Freedom of Information Legislation
    Ombudsman Bill 2008
June / July 1st 8,191.80 Oireachtas Inquiries
    Confidential

Communications with

Members of the Dáil
    Regulation of Lobbying
    Civil Service Accountability
    Statute Law

Revision Project
    Mahon Tribunal

Recommendation/Ethics Legislation
    Protected Disclosures in the Public Interest Legislation
    Freedom of Information Legislation
    Ombudsman Bill 2008
July 2nd-31st 8,191.80 Oireachtas Inquiries
    Confidential

Communications with

Members of the Dáil
    Regulation of Lobbying
    Civil Service Accountability
    Statute Law Revision

Project
    Mahon Tribunal

Recommendation/Ethics Legislation
    Protected Disclosures

in the Public Interest

Legislation
    Freedom of Information Legislation
    Ombudsman Bill 2008
August 6,143.85 Statute Law Revision

Project
    Protected Disclosures

in the Public Interest

Legislation
    Freedom of Information Legislation
September 8,191.80 Oireachtas Inquiries
    Confidential

Communications with

Members of the Dáil
    Statute Law

Revision Project
    Ombudsman Bill 2008
October 6,143.85 Oireachtas Inquiries
    Regulation of Lobbying
    Statute Law Revision

Project
    Freedom of Information Legislation
    Ombudsman Bill 2008
November 8,191.80 Oireachtas Inquiries
    Regulation of Lobbying
    Statute Law Revision

Project
    Mahon Tribunal

Recommendation/

Ethics Legislation
    Protected Disclosures in the Public Interest Legislation
    Freedom of Information Legislation
    Ombudsman Bill 2008

Public Sector Pay

 131. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin to show separately, the amount of money that would be saved if all increments across the public service were suspended in 2013; if all increments in respect of persons earning a basic salary of over €60,000 per annum were suspended in 2013; if all increments in respect of persons earning a basic salary of over €75,000 per annum were suspended in 2013; if all increments in respect of persons earning a basic salary of over €90,000 per annum were suspended in 2013; if all increments in respect of persons earning a basic salary of over €100,000 per annum were suspended in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57612/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin My Department has access to detailed data on increments only in the Civil Service sector, for which I have direct responsibility.

  On increments generally, based on updated information submitted to my Department on the total cost of increments in a full year in the various sectors, the full year cost of increments in the public service (excluding the Local Authority sector) is now estimated at some €150 million per annum and less than half that sum in 2013. Significantly reduced recruitment, the ongoing substantial fall in numbers of public servants and higher numbers reaching the maxima of scales has reduced the cost of increments. This cost will continue to fall over the coming years.

  Data available in relation to increments payable in the Civil Service illustrates the significant reduction in the estimated cost of increments from €23m in 2009 to €16.5m in 2013. It also shows the reduction in the number of employees paid increments on an annual basis from 43% in 2009 to 36% in 2013 of a reducing staff cohort. This reduction arises due to recruitment restrictions and as more people reach the maxima of the scales. This reduction in cost is accentuated as new recruits to the public service are subject also to a 10% reduction in their pay scales with effect from 1 January 2011.

  Of the estimated total annual cost for payment of increments in the Civil Service in 2013, the estimated amount that would not be paid were increments suspended in respect of civil servants due an increment in certain salary bands is as follows:

Salary Band Amount Saved by Abolition of Increments
Over €60,000 to over €100,000 €3.685m
Over €75,000 to over €100,000 €2.165m
Over €90,000 to over €100,000 €0.925m
Over €100,000 €0.640m

Social Welfare Code Issues

 132. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he has considered the merits of a central State means testing body to facilitate the efficient implementation of fair and progressive social protection, education and health care policy, amongst others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57694/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I am advised by my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, that the delivery of means tested payments is constantly under review and that there are two important projects currently underway in the Department of Social Protection which will streamline the delivery of means tested payments.

The objective of the first project is to facilitate the capture and storage of means information and the calculation of customer means across social assistance schemes. This application now is in use in four scheme areas and is in the process of being rolled out to further schemes. One of the benefits of this project is that the Department of Social Protection will, where appropriate, be able to re-use means information already held which in turn will provide better customer service by reducing the need for different parts of the Department to request information from the applicant.

The Department of Social Protection is exploring the possibility of sharing means data with other agencies involved in the administration of means tested payments. A ‘pilot’ exercise was undertaken across quarters 2 and 3 of 2012 with two other agencies to assess the usability of the available data, to devise the technical infrastructure required to support data sharing and to identify other issues to be addressed in order to share data across all agencies. Work on this project will continue in 2013 and will inform any future developments in relation to means testing arrangements across a range of Government bodies.

The second project involves the establishment of Intreo, the new integrated employment and support service provided by the Department of Social Protection. This integrates the former FÁS employment services and community programmes and the former HSE Community Welfare Services (CWS) with the income maintenance role of the Department. This project is transforming social welfare offices into one-stop-shops where clients can access their entitlements and get help with planning their return to work. This means a more coordinated approach to the provision of service to the public and will create opportunities to remove duplication of work, including in the area of means assessment.

The Intreo service will be operational in ten social welfare offices by the end of 2012 and will be rolled out to all areas of the country by end 2014.

Public Sector Allowances Review

 133. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide details of all allowances to public and civil servants that were abolished this year including details of the estimated savings in 2013 of the elimination of such allowances in each case; whether they apply to existing staff or to new employees only; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57727/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Departments were notified by my Department on 28th September 2012 of details of the Government decision in relation to the outcome of the Review of Public Sector Allowances and Premium Pay. Copies of these letters, detailing allowances to be abolished for new beneficiaries and allowances to be approved for new beneficiaries but subject to review and/or modification are publicly available on my Departments website at www.per.gov.ie  . Extensive material relating to the review, including a spreadsheet summarising statistics and the outcome of each allowance reviewed are also published on the website.

  Approval for payment of an allowance to a new beneficiary pending the outcome of the review was withdrawn from 31st January 2012 and was not restored in the case where the review found that there is no business case for its payment to new beneficiaries. Because of the moratorium and limited recruitment across the public sector, the immediate value of these decisions is estimated at €3.5 million in 2012 rising to €16 million in 2016, arising mainly in the Education sector where there is some recruitment. Additional savings will be achieved as further allowances are abolished or modified.

  As part of the next steps of the Allowances Review process, my Department has written to sectoral management instructing them to engage immediately with staff interests with a view to securing their early agreement to the elimination of those Departmental allowances payable to current beneficiaries, where no business case exists to pay those allowances to new beneficiaries, with a list identified for consideration among the allowances they should prioritise for early elimination. In addition, Departments have been asked to identify other allowances, including legacy allowances, for elimination from current beneficiaries. Departments have responded to my Department on the request for prioritisation and are engaging with staff representatives on the issues.   

  Given the process currently underway, it is not appropriate to identify a specific target for savings in 2013.

Public Sector Staff Increment Payments

 134. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he consulted with the Equality Authority as to whether paying new entrants to the public and Civil Service lower wages, salaries and allowances was contrary to employment equality and general equality legislation; if he did, its response to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57728/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The then Minister for Finance Mr. Brian Lenihan announced in Budget 2011 that a 10% reduction would apply to the pay rates of new entrant public servants with effect from 1 January 2011. It would not be normal practice to consult the Equality Authority on an announcement made as part of the Budget nor on matters of public service pay policy. They have not contacted my Department on the matter.

I would note to the Deputy that the State and its bodies must, in the normal course, be in full compliance with all provisions of employment and equality legislation in the development and implementation of policies, including its employment policies, and may be held to account on those before the appropriate tribunals or courts.

Rural Social Scheme Applications

 135. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he instructed the Department of Social Protection to carry out a review of the rural social scheme; the result of such a review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57734/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I understand that my colleague the Minister for Social Protection and her Department are reviewing the range of employment support schemes and will assess the contribution of each programme to that Department’s labour market policy framework.

As set out in the recent Expenditure Report 2013, a range of Focused Policy Assessments (FPAs) are currently underway within my Department, and one of these relates to the Rural Social Scheme. This FPA is being carried out by the Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit of my Department and I expect to see a draft early in the New Year.

Focused Policy Assessments are designed to complement the broader range of evaluation tools available within the public service, including Value-for-Money & Policy Reviews, and will assist in maintaining the analytical momentum that was developed during the course of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure. Part of the rationale for FPAs is to stimulate, and to a degree to challenge, thinking within the broader system of public administration about current issues in public policy, and as such the findings of FPAs are not intended to reflect necessarily my views as Minister or the position of Department of Public Expenditure & Reform more generally. Final decisions in particular policy areas will be made by Ministers, weighing all of the various inputs to the decision-making process.

The review of the RSS underway is examining a number of core policy evaluation criteria, namely the rationale underpinning the Scheme, the continuing relevance of the objectives of the Scheme, and to a lesser extent, the effectiveness of the Scheme. Upon finalisation, the FPA will be published on my Department’s website.


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