A voluntary redundancy scheme was offered to local authority staff in 2013 and by the end of March 2014 approximately 620 staff will have departed under the scheme. The number of staff provided for Water Services under the Service Level Agreements with Irish Water for 2014 is 4319.6 full time equivalents subject to alignment with the budgets notified by Irish Water to each local authority. While this number will reduce over time, the actual head count requirement is intrinsically linked to the levels of investment within the sector in automation, rationalisation and infrastructure and operational upgrades. The establishment of Irish Water will lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness of water services delivery, and progress in these regards, leading to staffing reductions, will be closely monitored in the context of annual service plans.
While I have no plans at present to introduce a further voluntary redundancy scheme for staff in local authorities working in the water sector, I will be keeping this matter under review in consultation with Irish Water and the local government sector, having regard to natural attrition, redeployment and on-going workforce planning. In addition, any future voluntary redundancy scheme would need the prior approval of my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.