Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (437)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

437. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of staff at Irish Water and the Irish Water transition office that have been seconded from existing roles in the public service or at local authorities; if such staff remain employed by Government Departments or local authorities; where the pension and PRSI liability for such staff lies; if such staff will be hired by Irish Water in the future and under what terms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4921/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

A fundamental underpinning of the water reform programme is to ensure that the skills and experience built up over many years in local authorities are put to best use for the long-term benefit of the customer and that there is no negative impact on service to customers during the transition. Irish Water is currently recruiting to build up the internal capabilities required within the organisation and the number of staff employed is an operational matter for the organisation. Data supplied to my Department by Irish Water indicate that 346 staff have been recruited to up to 30 January 2014 - 125 from Local Authorities, 61 from Bord Gáis, 6 from my Department and 154 others. In the case of the local authority and Departmental staff who were successful in this competitive recruitment process, their initial period with Irish Water is on a secondment basis pending the establishment of the superannuation arrangements provided for under the Water Services No.2 Act, 2013. No other secondment arrangements are in place for the Irish Water organisation, but a number of staff have been seconded to the Irish Water Programme to assist in the metering programme and the establishment of Irish Water. Such staff remain employees of their parent authority or the Department at their existing salary levels and Irish Water recoups the relevant employer for the costs of secondment.

The Water Services Transition Office (WSTO) was established by the County and City Managers’ Association to assist with the implementation of the water sector reform process. The role of the WSTO is to support the delivery of the water sector reform programme on behalf of the local government sector, by co-ordinating the involvement of the 34 County and City Councils on a range of matters including standardised data gathering, financial analysis, HR negotiations, negotiation of SLAs and transition planning, all of which were required while daily water services operations were maintained. The WSTO was established in two locations - Dublin and Waterford - and is staffed by seconded local authority staff. During 2013, the average monthly WSTO staff complement across both locations was 17.7 staff, ranging from 21.1 staff at its highest (August 2013) to 5 staff at its lowest (January 2013). At year end there were 13.6 staff assigned to the WSTO. Arrangements are in place for the continuation of the WSTO into 2014 with proposals for staff numbers to be reduced to 10 people. WSTO staff costs will continue to be paid in the first instance by the parent local authority and are recouped by the Department in line with the approved budget for 2014.

Question No. 438 answered with Question No. 103.