Since 2015 it has been possible to provide for significant increases in Government expenditure, which have allowed for the recruitment of additional staff across the public service. At the end of 2014, there were 293,346 public service employees (on a full-time equivalent or FTE basis) and this increased to 330,576 (FTE) by end 2018. In particular a large proportion of these increases were in sectors that provide key frontline services. For example, over this period, numbers in the Health sector increased from 101,494 to 117,857 and numbers in the Education sector increased from 94,045 to 106,948.
It is a key responsibility of each Minister and Department to manage expenditure within the agreed allocations and, in order to provide enhanced scope for Departments to manage staffing levels and composition within their allocated financial resources, a policy of delegated sanction in relation to staff management was specifically introduced in 2015.
It is within this context, and taking into account the increase of 5.6% in the paybill for 2019, from €17.7 billion in 2018 to €18.7 billion, that individual Departments have responsibility for the management of all elements of their expenditure within the allocations voted by Dáil Éireann.