Questions Nos. 215 and 216 answered with Question No. 159.

Insurance Costs

Questions (217)

Robert Troy

Question:

217. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if the issue of returning emigrants being charged high car insurance due to the fact they have lost their no claims bonus will be addressed (details supplied); and his views on whether the matter should be addressed urgently. [31365/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the outset it is important to note that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation.  Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept.  This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products.  Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level or terms or conditions that they should apply in respect of particular categories of drivers or vehicles.

Notwithstanding this, the difficulties faced by returning emigrants in respect of motor insurance was recognised by the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s  (CIWG) and was the subject of a particular recommendation.  In this regard, a protocol was agreed between Insurance Ireland and the Department of Finance in relation to returning emigrants, under which insurance companies committed to accepting the driving experience of such drivers gained while abroad, when the driver has had previous driving experience in Ireland.  The details of it is available on Insurance Ireland’s website and the websites of its member companies.

The guiding principle of the protocol is to ensure that a returning emigrant is not treated differently to any other driver, subject to verification of their continued driving experience and the normal acceptance criteria of the company.  Thus, a returning emigrant will not be disadvantaged from spending that time abroad.  Furthermore, under the protocol, insurance companies will not distinguish between countries on the basis of which side of the road driving takes place therein.  My Department continues to review the implementation of this recommendation through its regular engagement with Insurance Ireland. 

I understand that in general, insurance companies set a date by which a no-claims bonus will expire, where the driver has held no insurance in their own name for two or more years.  This applies whether the person continues to reside in Ireland, or they decide to move abroad and it is primarily a commercial matter for insurance companies.  Therefore, if the person is abroad for less than two years, then it should not be necessary to continue to pay for a policy while abroad.  However, the protocol states that if more than two years have passed since the Irish motor insurance policy was cancelled/lapsed, the Irish No Claims Discount is no longer valid.  Notwithstanding this, if the person has been abroad for longer than two years, Insurance Ireland members have agreed through the protocol that if the person has claims-free driving experience in a different country in their own name, they will take this experience into consideration if that person seeks a quotation from an insurer, on their return to Ireland, subject to the appropriate verifiable documentation being provided.  If the Deputy is aware of instances where it appears that a person is having problems in this regard, I would suggest that the person contacts Insurance Ireland, who operate a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to obtaining insurance.  Insurance Ireland can be contacted at feedback@insuranceireland.eu or 01-6761914.

Finally, I believe that the overall implementation of the CIWG’s recommendations is having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance.  The latest CSO figures from May 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24.5% lower than the July 2016 peak, consequently the average consumer should be seeing reductions when renewing their motor insurance.  In addition, I would note that representations made to my Department from returning emigrants have dropped significantly in the last year.  I am hopeful that this reflects that more are receiving insurance cover in line with the protocol referenced above.  The Government is determined to continue working to ensure that these positive pricing trends can be extended to other forms of insurance, including those relevant to businesses.

Insurance Data

Questions (218, 219)

Michael McGrath

Question:

218. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether a database (details supplied) should be managed and controlled by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31430/19]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

219. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the State provides information to an organisation (details supplied) for a database; if so, the type of information shared; if there is a data sharing agreement between the State and the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31431/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 219 together.

The database referenced by the Deputy is a claims matching database currently run by Insurance Ireland to assist its members in the detection and defence of potentially fraudulent claims.  The Cost of Insurance Working Group( CIWG) examined this database with a view to determining how effective it was from an operational perspective.  It concluded that in light of the limitations identified that a fully functioning integrated insurance fraud database should be established and that this would have to be managed by an independent not-for-profit body but funded by the industry.  It was considered that such a database would be provided to all insurance companies participating in the Irish market for the purposes of identifying patterns of fraud. 

The current position is a working group chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality is currently working on the implementation of this recommendation to develop an insurance fraud database to which all insurers will have access once complete.  However, this is a complex project which needs to fully consider data protection implications and therefore it has taken more time to implement than was anticipated when the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published.

I agree with the view of the CIWG that a new fully functioning integrated fraud database should be established.  In this regard, I believe that the State managing and controlling the existing database would be a sub-optimal solution in dealing with the issue of insurance fraud.  I would note that the proposal that this new integrated fraud database be managed by an independent not-for-profit body but funded by industry, would meet the objective of removing industry’s control of the database and be more economical as the taxpayer should not have to pay for a service which is ultimately of benefit to insurers.  In addition, the nature of the CIWG proposal is that it will most likely make the existing database redundant as it relates to fraud detection. 

Finally, it should be noted that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation and therefore have no role in the operation of, or the provision of information to the organisation mentioned or this database. However as the Deputy will note from the  attached link a number of the Members of the Self Insured Taskforce who have access to this database are state bodies.  Details of the database can be accessed at:

http://www.insuranceireland.eu/member-services/shared-services or at: http://www.inslink.ie/

Insurance Data

Questions (220)

Michael McGrath

Question:

220. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the progress the CSO is making in compiling a price index for public liability and employer liability; his views on whether such an index will be created; when such an index will be up and running; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31436/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Increasing the availability of data in relation to Employer and Public Liability Insurance is a matter which was discussed by the Cost of Insurance Working Group in its Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance (2018).  It recommended a number of actions to improve transparency in this area.  Amongst these, Recommendation 1 requires the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to consider the feasibility of collecting price information on the cost of insurance to businesses, and if it considers such an index feasible to make appropriate proposals. 

The Deputy will be aware that the CSO submitted a draft report to the Department of Finance in December 2018 on the work undertaken on the feasibility study to date. It subsequently provided a final report to the CIWG in January 2019.  In this report, the CSO outlined the method that they would recommend for the compilation of a price index for public and employer liability insurance.  I understand that this method is currently being piloted by the CSO and that good progress has been made.  In this context, the CSO is working closely with a technology partner and has had positive engagement to date from most of the relevant insurance companies.  I understand from the CSO that the pilot project will conclude at the end of September.

In that context, I would expect that it will make a report to the CIWG in relation to its recommendation on a path forward.  It should be noted however that the CSO is an independent Office and it will ultimately be for them to determine whether or not to proceed with such an index.

Insurance Data

Questions (221)

Michael McGrath

Question:

221. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when the national claims information database will incorporate public liability and employer liability data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31437/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, the scope of the National Claims Information Database (NCID) was designed in such a way as to enable it be expanded to include other classes of insurance, e.g. liability, property, etc. in the future.  However the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) considered it important that the first focus of the database should be on the collection of private motor data.  It should be noted that this motor exercise is well advanced and the Central Bank is expected to publish its first report later this year. 

In parallel with its work on the private motor data exercise, I have been informed that the Central Bank has been considering the merits and feasibility of collecting data related to general liability insurance (or public and employer liability insurance) from all relevant insurance undertakings operating in the State.  This is in line with the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance recommendation on this matter.

I understand that the Central Bank is currently engaging with external stakeholders, including industry and consumer representative groups, to confirm the key data requirements, and will also research the employer and public liability insurance environment in other jurisdictions, focussing on data availability.  The Central Bank intends to produce its feasibility report by the end of 2019, and I understand that this will include recommended data submission requirements.

In conclusion, I am satisfied that progress is being made with regard to this recommendation.

Insurance Costs

Questions (222)

Michael McGrath

Question:

222. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when the key information report on employer and public liability insurance claims will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31438/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware from previous Cost of Insurance Working Group’s (CIWG) update reports that a data template was developed by the data sub-group of the CIWG and this was submitted to Insurance Ireland by Minister of State D’Arcy on 18 May 2018.  In it, he requested that the completed data submission be returned by the end of Q3 2018 to allow sufficient time for the production and publication of the Report by the end of Q4 2018.  

Since then, my Department has corresponded with Insurance Ireland about receipt of a completed data submission, however Insurance Ireland has informed my Department that it has not been in a position to provide such a submission, due to the volume and complexity of the data to be collected.  They also indicated that they had instigated a procurement process for a third party to assist with this exercise and that they were liaising with their members. 

I understand that these consultations are continuing with members but that the focus is now on the feasibility of being able to provide the data requested.  They expect to provide a substantive update to my Department on feasibility shortly.  Accordingly, it is not possible for me to publish this key information report at the moment.   

While I recognise that this exercise is complex and that Insurance Ireland has never compiled this level of data with regard to employer and public liability insurance before, and ultimately it is a voluntary exercise, I think that this delay is very unfortunate and demonstrates the importance of the Central Bank of Ireland’s consideration of the potential for expanding the scope of the National Claims Information Database to cover employer and public liability insurance.

Insurance Industry Regulation

Questions (223)

Michael McGrath

Question:

223. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether insurance companies must ensure defendants are notified of a claim made against them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31439/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

My Department is currently working on developing legislative changes that would oblige insurance companies to inform policyholders of claims made against them. The objective of the proposal is to ensure that policyholders are informed as soon as possible after a claim against their policy is lodged and informed after a claim is settled. In addition, the proposal will seek to require insurers to engage with the policyholder to ensure that the policyholder’s views can be taken into consideration.

This proposal originates from Recommendation 8 of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance. A corresponding recommendation was then included in the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance (Rec 10) as this issue is generally far more pertinent to businesses and other liability insurance policyholders rather than individual motorists. Thus, the proposal seeks to include within the scope of the changes small businesses which have an annual turnover of €3 million or less.

The Department engaged with Insurance Ireland to seek voluntary agreement of this proposal through a protocol. Unfortunately, no such agreement could be reached on a non-legislative basis.

As a result, it is proposed to include this legislative proposal within the Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill 2017, a Private Members’ Bill which is based on a 2015 Law Reform Commission Report.  The Government provided support in principle for the objectives of this Bill at Second Stage and noted the intention of the Minister for Finance to submit substantive amendments should the Bill reach Committee Stage. This proposal has been developed as a Committee Stage amendment, which Minister of State D’Arcy will propose at the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach consideration of this Bill  on the 11th July.

The reason the legislative changes are not being drafted as a new separate Bill is because I see the Consumer Insurance Contract Bill as an ideal vehicle for addressing insurance consumer related issues, such as this one, from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective.  In addition, as all parties have worked very constructively together on important insurance legislation such as the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018, and the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 to date, I see no reason why this constructive engagement cannot continue.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Questions (224)

Robert Troy

Question:

224. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of planned works to Mullingar Garda station; and when these works will commence. [31261/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm that the Office of Public Works plans to commence the following works at Mullingar Garda Station; boiler upgrade works, upgrade and refurbishment works to timber windows, partial internal decorating and the provision of accommodation for a specialist Garda Unit. These works have been tendered, are expected to commence in the coming months and be complete before the year end.

Although not finalised, the Office of Public Works is working with Garda Estate Management and local Garda management on preparing options for addressing further requirements at Mullingar Garda Station.

Public Sector Staff Data

Questions (225)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

225. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of public servants who retired after the imposition of FEMPI who received a lump sum as part of their pension that was reduced due to the impact of FEMPI; the average amount of the reduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30484/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Firstly I should clarify that public service lump sums payments were not directly reduced by the Financial Emergency Measure in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation. The FEMPI legislation introduced measures that directly reduced pay, and reduced annual pensions of public servants, subject to certain rates, thresholds and exemptions. As both the annual pensions and lump sum payments of members of pre- 2013 public service pension schemes are directly linked to salary at retirement, the reductions to the pay of public servants would have had a knock on impact on the lump sum payment they received at retirement.

However because of what is known as the first grace period, those who retired between 1 January 2010 and 29 February 2012 did not have the first FEMPI pay reduction (imposed 1 January 2010) reflected in the salary rate used to calculate their annual pension or their lump sum. A second round of FEMPI reductions was imposed in 2013 (imposed on 1 July on public servants with an annual remuneration above €65,000). However the second grace period meant that those who retired from that point onwards (assuming their pay was affected by those reductions while still serving) did not have those reductions reflected in the salary rate used to calculate their annual pension or lump sum.

Thus it is only those who retired from 1 March 2012 onwards whose lump sums are potentially, indirectly impacted by FEMPI, and it is only the first FEMPI reduction which could have had an impact. However salaries of all serving staff have been increased, and some restored to pre-FEMPI rates, through pay increase measures contained in FEMPI Act 2015 and The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, the first of these measures being applied from 1 January 2016. Thus the lump sums of those retiring since such pay increases were introduced are not affected to the same extent, or if the salary has been fully restored by the time they retired their lump sum is not affected at all. (As of June 2019, pay reductions have been fully reversed for all public servants earning up to €30,000 and this includes approximately 9,500 civil servants).

Due to the fact that there was no explicit measure to reduce lump sum payments contained in the FEMPI legislation, but rather an indirect impact, and to varying degrees, on certain lump sums, the information requested is not readily available and its compilation would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work.

However the following table illustrates an example of the impact on the lump sums of individuals who retired between 1 March 2012 (the date after the expiration of the first grace period) and before the date of the first pay increase, at different salary rates. It illustrates the difference between the lump sum that would have been received had the FEMPI reduction of 1 January 2010 not been reflected in the salary rate used to calculate their lump sum, and the lump sum received when this reduction is reflected in the salary rate used in the calculation.

Salary rate pre FEMPI pay reduction of 1 Jan 2010

Salary rate with FEMPI reduction of 1 Jan 2010 applied

Lump sum payment based on 40 years' service if pre-FEMPI rate used to calculate lump sum

Lump sum payment based on 40 years' service if reduced rate used to calculate lump sum

% difference

€30,000

€28,500

€45,000

€42,750

5%

€70,000

€65,500

€105,000

€98,250

6%

€100,000

€92,500

€150,000

€138,750

8%

Departmental Submissions

Questions (226)

Jack Chambers

Question:

226. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the involvement of his Department in the submission to the Public Sector Pay Commission regarding Defence Forces pay and conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30515/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The employer submission to the Pay Commission, as was the case in similar submissions,  was made on a collaborative basis between the management side parties and included extensive inputs from the Department of Defence and the Military Authorities. It is longstanding practice that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (and before it the Department of Finance) represents the public service as employer. The Department has the responsibility for co-ordinating, articulating and submitting the employer case in such matters on behalf of Government as employer. This is essential to ensure consistency and coherence in approach and the balancing of important broader public service wide policy and fiscal considerations.

Cyber Security Protocols

Questions (227)

Jack Chambers

Question:

227. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if it has had a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30592/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department implements a multi-layered approach to cyber security and to protecting ICT systems, infrastructures, and services. My Department implements a defence-in-depth security strategy which is achieved through the effective combination of People, Processes, and Technology to support the implementation of appropriate security measures and provisions. With the threat landscape constantly evolving, significant effort is expended to continually enhance and strengthen ICT security to mitigate against emerging threats, risks, vulnerabilities and cybersecurity issues. In terms of cyber security strategies, my Department works closely with the National Cyber Security Centre which is a division of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and encompasses the State's national/governmental Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT-IE). 

My Department has no evidence to indicate any cybersecurity breaches in the past 12 months.

Commencement of Legislation

Questions (228)

Michael McGrath

Question:

228. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position on the requirement to prepare a report within three months of the enactment of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 in respect of those public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act due to reaching 65 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30605/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy is aware, on 5 December 2017, the Government made the decision to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70, for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004.  Primary legislation was necessary in order to bring that change into effect.  It was made clear at the time that until such legislation was enacted, the compulsory retirement age of 65, which applied to the vast majority of this cohort, remained in effect and pre-2004 public servants reaching that age would be required to retire.

Interim arrangements were provided for the cohort of public servants who reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 between the date of the Government Decision and the enactment of the legislation because, while they would be aware of the Government’s decision, they would be unable to avail of it.  The interim arrangements permitted these individuals to be rehired post-retirement for a period of 1 year until they reached the age of eligibility for the State Pension (Contributory).  Without those specific arrangements, they would have been required to cease working on reaching the age of 65.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. Under the Act, any relevant public servant who had not already reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 before that date has a new compulsory retirement age of 70.  Enactment of the legislation had no effect on those public servants who retired at 65 prior to the 26 December 2018 and who availed of a one year contract under the interim arrangements.  Their contract terms continue to apply and they cease working when they reach the age of 66, as previously provided for.  

Section 3 of the 2018 Act also provides that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, within three months of the passing of the Act, would prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act, due to reaching the age of 65 years, and on potential remedies to assist this cohort of worker.  This Report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019 and is publicly available on the www.gov.ie website and in the Oireachtas Library online catalogue.  

Having considered all of the issues outlined in the Report, I am satisfied that the interim arrangements were an appropriate temporary policy response at the time of the Government Decision, pending enactment of the legislation.  The terms of those arrangements were clear, unambiguous and made known to those who availed of them.  Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the report, I decided not to make any changes to those terms.

Flood Relief Schemes

Questions (229)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

229. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there are grants available to assist homeowners to carry out flood defence works to protect their homes from flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30642/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Local flooding issues are a matter for each local authority to investigate and address in the first instance. They may carry out flood alleviation works from their own resources or apply to the Office of Public Works (OPW) for funding under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. This purpose of this scheme is to provide funding to local authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation works or studies to address localised flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. This scheme is not a grant scheme for individual homeowners or private property owners. While individual property owners may benefit from the works, the local authority must be the promoter and proposer of the project and will be fully responsible for the implementation of the works and ensuring that all relevant and necessary statutory consents are applied for and received. When funding is approved under the scheme, the progression of any works is the responsibility of the local authority.

Individual Property Protection (IPP) can be effective in mitigating against the adverse consequences for properties at risk of flooding. It can reduce the damage caused to contents, furniture and fittings in a house or business, but it is not applicable in all situations. For example, it may not be suitable in areas of deep or prolonged flooding, or for certain types of properties.

The OPW has undertaken a study of IPP to look at the potential for protecting a proportion of those properties that do not form part of the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) and will continue to explore possible options for IPP during the course of 2019.

Project Ireland 2040 Administration

Questions (230)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

230. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide his Department’s most recent version of the capital projects tracker (details supplied). [30716/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department has now transitioned its material to Gov.ie. Project Ireland 2040 information is available at gov.ie/2040. The specific link to the Investment Projects and Programmes Tracker is now

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6db7c4-investment-projects-and-programmes-tracker/

The Investment Projects and Programmes tracker is currently being revised and updated. This updated version will be published in autumn 2019.

Drawing on the material from the tracker, my Department has developed MyProjectIreland, a new citizen-focused interactive map developed in partnership with Ordnance Survey Ireland which allows the user to navigate projects around the country, finding out what is happening in their region. This further enhances public awareness and engagement. MyProjectIreland is available at

https://geohive.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=752cbec9c0f64c6894fb63f7ebe7c4db 

MyProjectIreland was launched alongside the first annual report for Project Ireland in May 2019.  The report provides a synopsis of the strong progress made so far as well a roadmap of what is still to come.

Living Wage

Questions (231)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

231. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of implementing a living wage €12.30 for all employees directly employed and or in agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30776/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy is aware, the National Minimum Wage is a statutory entitlement and has a legislative basis. The Low Pay Commission annually assesses the appropriate level of the National Minimum Wage. The current national minimum hourly rate of pay, since 1 January 2019, is €9.80 per hour, as set out in the National Minimum Wage Order 2018.  The Living Wage has no legislative basis and is therefore not a statutory entitlement.

The suggested wage at €12.30 per hour based on the Civil Service 37 hour standard net working week equates to an annual salary of €23,747. Public servants currently on an annual salary of less than €23,747 may be receiving remuneration in excess of the suggested living wage through additional premium payments in respect of shift or atypical working hours or are on salary scales that progress to the suggested living wage and above through incremental progression.  

It should also be noted that in the context of the Living Wage, pay increases under the Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020 include: 1% in October 2018; 1% for those earning under €30,000 in January 2019; 1.75% in September 2019; and 2% in October 2020. Those increases have increased and will continue to increase earnings for all public servants over the term of the Public Service Stability Agreement.

In respect of my own Department, I can confirm that the cost of implementing the Living Wage solely to staff within my core Department would be €74,064.05.

In line with Standing Order 42A, my Department will forward additional material to the Deputy regarding costs in respect of bodies under the aegis of my Department.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions (232)

Jack Chambers

Question:

232. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the short-term timeline for all actions to be implemented in the implementation plan for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30831/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

A High Level Plan to implement the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention issues in the Permanent Defence Forces has been published by Government. The Plan extracts the recommendations made in the third Report of the Public Service Pay Commission and translates them into discrete actions. Furthermore the Plan  categorises the actions, proposes a timeframe for their commencement and identifies the lead actors to implement the action.  The timeframe for commencement of actions in Phase One is split into four distinct timelines as follow:

1 Immediate (ie action to commence and be completed within 1 month of approval of the Plan)

2 Short term (ie action to be commence (and in some cases be completed) within 3 months of approval of the Plan) 

3 Medium term (ie action to commence (and in some cases be completed) within 3 months of approval of the Plan) 

4 Long term (ie action to commence within 6-12 months of the Plan).

Carbon Budget

Questions (233)

Jack Chambers

Question:

233. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the updated public spending code to increase the shadow price of carbon in project appraisal will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30832/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Facing challenging and legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, it is imperative that the assessment of public investment projects include an appropriate valuation of the cost that society will bear in dealing with the increased greenhouse gas emissions a project might give rise to. 

Under the National Mitigation Plan, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform committed to “undertake a review of guidance on public expenditure appraisal and evaluation to ensure their suitability to capturing key costs and benefits of climate measures”. In November 2018, my Department published a consultation paper on valuing greenhouse gas emissions in the Public Spending Code, along with a review of the other central technical appraisal parameters used in the Code. 

The paper on valuing greenhouse gas emissions concluded that the model currently in use for pricing carbon in the Public Spending Code is outdated. It proposed a new methodology that values future greenhouse gas emissions according to a shadow price of carbon that is based on the estimated marginal cost that will be faced by society in achieving Ireland’s legally binding 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target. 

In practical terms, this means a new shadow price of carbon for non-ETS emissions of €32 per tonne in 2020, rising by €6.80 a year to reach €100 per tonne by 2030. Beyond 2030, it is proposed that the shadow price of carbon will continue to rise by 5% a year. This means that the shadow price of carbon rises to €128 for 2035, €163 for 2040, €208 for 2045 and €265 for 2050.  

The consultation period has now concluded and my Department has completed its evaluation of the responses received. It is my intention to publish a decision paper detailing my Department's response to the views received along with a circular revising the Public Spending Code to take account of the revised shadow price of carbon during the course of July. The circular will also update other technical parameters, including a downward revision of the test discount rate from 5% to 4%. 

Collectively, these reforms will ensure that the Public Spending Code incorporates a more realistic appreciation of the climate consequences of all Government investment decisions. Once the circular is published the use of the revised values will be mandatory for all appraisals.

Project Ireland 2040 Administration

Questions (234)

Jack Chambers

Question:

234. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the review of selection criteria for Project Ireland 2040 funds has commenced to ensure low-carbon investments are prioritised for funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30833/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The selection criteria for the Project Ireland Funds are a matter for the four Departments running the Project Ireland 2040 competitive funds, namely: 

- the Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation for the Disruptive Technologies Fund, 

- the Minister for Communications, Climate Action & the Environment for the Climate Action Fund, 

- the Minister for Rural & Community Development for the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund, and

- the Minister for Housing, Planning  & Local Government for the Urban Regeneration & Development Fund.

Departmental Data

Questions (235)

Denis Naughten

Question:

235. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the different income streams directly paid by persons to his Department or agencies under his remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or increment payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30859/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Due to the nature of their roles, neither my Department nor the bodies under its aegis have annual income streams from sources similar to motor tax, directly paid by persons to them.  The Office of Public Works will respond directly to the Deputy in line with Standing Order 42A.

Public Spending Code

Questions (236)

Jack Chambers

Question:

236. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the changes to procurement procedures after the national children’s hospital capital overrun; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30874/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s capital management systems, the Office of Government Procurement is conducting a review of construction procurement and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is reviewing the Public Spending Code. The purpose of these reviews is to strengthen the existing guidance to better align with the realities of project delivery and with a particular focus on improved financial appraisal, cost estimation and management. 

The following reforms will be considered and implemented as part of the Public Spending Code review:

- Strengthen and harmonise capital appraisal guidance;

- Greater clarity on governance and roles and responsibilities, particular in terms of who is the Sanctioning Authority and who is the Sponsoring Agency for major projects;

- Introduce new mechanisms to improve the accuracy of cost estimates;

- Improve project life cycle to better reflect the realities of project delivery; and

- Complement the Project Ireland 2040 Capital Tracker in monitoring projects and costs.

The revised central elements of the Public Spending Code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published this summer.  Further technical guidance building upon these central elements will follow in the second half of 2019 and in 2020.

Procurement legislation is established on an EU wide basis through the suite of procurement directives. The most recent directives were issued in 2014 and have all been transposed into Irish law by means of Statutory Instrument.

The Capital Works Management Framework ("CWMF") is the structure that has been developed to deliver the Government’s objectives in relation to public sector construction procurement reform. It consists of a suite of best practice guidance, standard contracts and generic template documents that must be used on all projects that are to be delivered under the Exchequer-funded element of the National Development Plan ("NDP").  It is managed by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) in consultation with the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC). 

The performance of a key component of the CWMF; the public works contract, was reviewed in 2014 and a series of recommendations that apply to the conditions of contract have been implemented since 2016.

That review prompted the OGP to undertake a broader review of the procurement of public works projects in order to develop the next generation of the CWMF. 

A set of objectives have been developed to manage the review process which will permit a progressive refinement of the CWMF rather than awaiting the completion of the entire work programme prior to implementation.  Enhanced risk management throughout a project’s lifecycle and quality of information will inform all aspects of the work programme. 

Consultation has already commenced with industry and the public bodies charged with the delivery of public works projects on a broad range of issues that are impacting on the successful and timely delivery of projects.  These are wide ranging and warrant careful consideration and cover areas such as:

- price variation;

- risk management;

- creating a better quality : price balance in the award of contracts;

- adoption of BIM on public works projects;

- liability, indemnity and insurance requirements;

- performance evaluation;

- encouraging collaborative working.

It is proposed to publish a range of position papers throughout 2019 and 2020 on these and other issues and invite submissions from interested parties.  Upon conclusion of the consultation process recommendations will be prepared by the GCCC on the measures necessary to address any shortcomings identified. 

The programme commenced with a focus on the early stages of a project’s development with the publication of a position paper on the engagement of the consultant technical professionals upon which submissions have been received.  The paper focusses on improving the manner in which consultants are engaged to provide expert advice to contracting authorities on matters such as design, cost estimating, project management, procurement and contract administration.

Project Ireland 2040

Questions (237, 239, 240)

Jack Chambers

Question:

237. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the capital projects which have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies in tabular form; when these projects will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30888/19]

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Jack Chambers

Question:

239. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the capital projects which have commenced under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30924/19]

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Jack Chambers

Question:

240. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if expenditure estimates for capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30970/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 237, 239 and 240 together.

Due to the nature of their roles, neither my Department nor the bodies under its aegis, with the exception of the Office of Public Works, have projects under Project Ireland 2040. The main purpose of the capital investment undertaken by my Department is to deliver greater effectiveness and efficiency across the Civil and Public Service, primarily through the development of cross-government ICT systems.

The Office of Public Works will respond directly to the Deputy in line with Standing Order 42A.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Questions Nos. 239 and 240 answered with Question No. 237.

Questions (238)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

238. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the Maghery and Magheraroarty flood plan measures in County Donegal which received funding in July 2018; if the studies have been completed; the timeline for the delivery of the projects; if he is satisfied that both projects will be adequately funded in order to deal with the measures proposed by the respective studies to prevent future flooding of the areas; when funding will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30894/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised that funding was approved to Donegal County Council in July 2018 under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme for a coastal flooding and erosion risk management Study covering the areas mentioned in the deputy’s question.

I am further advised by that the procurement process by the Council for the appointment of the consultants to carry out the study is currently in progress.

Following completion of the study and subject to the options identified, Donegal County Council may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources or if necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant central Government Departments for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

They may also apply under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for funding, where applications are considered for flood relief and erosion protection measures costing up to €750,000 in each instance.

Questions Nos. 239 and 240 answered with Question No. 237.