Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (111, 112)

Richard Bruton

Question:

110 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the recorded number of persons employed in the public service whose pay is met directly or indirectly by the Government in each quarter of 2001, 2002, 2003 and in 2004 to date. [6421/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

Aggregate figures for numbers of persons employed within the public service are not available on a quarterly basis for the period in question, but are available on an annual basis. The following table sets out the figures by sector for the years concerned.

2001

2002

2003Estimated

2004Projected

Civil Servants

36,092

37,796

37,593

37,164

Garda Síochána

12,460

12,642

12,688

12,646

Defence Forces

11,808

11,650

11,600

11,400

Education

73,295

75,720

76,989

76,489

Non Commercial semi-State Bodies

11,086

11,612

11,476

11,331

Health Services

92,996

95,679

95,800

95,600

Local Authorities

32,062

34,175

33,845

33,515

269,799

279,274

279,991

278,145

Footnote:

All figures are on a whole-time equivalent basis at 31 December.

Local Authority numbers are not included in the Public Service Pay bill

Richard Bruton

Question:

111 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the difference in absolute numbers and in the trends of public service numbers as recently published by FÁS, as published by the Central Statistics Office, and as recorded by his Department; and the extent to which the Government’s target of reducing public service numbers by 5,000 has been achieved under each of these measures. [6422/04]

View answer

I assume the question refers to the FÁS Quarterly Labour Market Commentary for the first quarter of 2004, which was published last week. The employment figures quoted therein are drawn from the CSO Quarterly National Survey, 2003, quarter 3. These figures indicated that employment in a category headed "public services" increased by just over 20,000 to 373,000 from the third quarter of 2002 to the third quarter of 2003. There was a certain amount of comment on these figures in the media but many of the conclusions drawn were inaccurate.

Most significantly the CSO figures in this survey are not an indicator of public service employment. The CSO classification of "public services" includes sizeable private sector elements in the health and education sectors including work without a public sector parallel. For example, the health sector figure includes private sector health practitioners and providers and also private crèche workers. The education sector figure includes private schools, colleges, and training providers.

As regards public sector employment, a more relevant CSO series is that on public sector employment and earnings, although it should be noted that this survey includes the commercial State companies, which are not covered by the Government's numbers policy, and only includes figures in respect of the health sector, which is covered by the numbers policy, annually, in respect of December, rather than quarterly as for all other sectors. The most recent figures available under this series are in respect of September 2003, published on the 18th of this month. This shows a reduction of 5,000, from 240,700 to 235,700, between June and September 2003. There is certainly a seasonal element in this but the reduction in 2003 was more than double the average reduction in the same months in the previous three years.

It is also worth noting that the CSO figures under both headings discussed above include all employees whether full-time or part-time. The surveys cover those who worked at least one hour in the reference week. The most appropriate measure for the purposes of monitoring the effect of the Government's policy on public service numbers is whole time equivalents. On this basis my Department's figures show a total public service employment of 279,274 at 31 December 2002 and an estimated 279,991 at 31 December 2003 with a projected figure of 278,145 at the end of 2004.

Therefore, the level of public service employment, having risen steadily over a number of years up to 2002, stabilised in 2003 and should fall this year. Within that overall 2003 picture, numbers are marginally up in the health sector, attributable mainly to persons taken on as public servants during 2003 following the withdrawal of certain private and voluntary providers from areas of the health service; numbers in the education sector rose by about 1,250, largely attributable to special needs education provision; while numbers reduced in the rest of the public service.

The figures by sector of the public service are as follows:

Public Service Employment

31/12/2002

31/12/2003Estimated

31/12/2004Projected

Civil Service

37,796

37,593

37,164

Garda Síochána

12,642

12,688

12,646

Defence Forces

11,650

11,600

11,400

Education

75,720

76,989

76,489

NCSSB’s

11,612

11,476

11,331

Health Services

95,679

95,800

95,600

Local Authorities

34,175

33,845

33,515

Public Service

279,274

279,991

278,145

All Figures are on a Whole-Time equivalent basis.

Local Authority numbers are not included in the Public Service Pay bill.