26 Nov 2019, 16.00
The Public Accounts Committee has today published its 7th Periodic Report which covers meetings from April 2019-July 2019.
Among its findings the report provides a special focus on matters related to Justice and Equality, Children and Youth Affairs and the management of state claims.
The Committee examined issues emerging from financial statements audited, and matters reported on, by the C&AG. The Committee has considered the evidence presented and has arrived at a number of conclusions and recommendations for further actions.
In relation to matters considered in this report, the Committee held meetings with a number of bodies including the Department of Justice and Equality; Central Statistics Office; Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General; Environmental Protection Agency; An Garda Síochána; Department of Finance; Department of Children and Youth Affairs; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; Department of Health and the Health Service Executive; National Treasury Management Agency; Matters Related to the Management of State Claims and Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.
Read the full report here on the Public Accounts Committee, under recent reports.
The Periodic Report’s conclusions and recommendations relate to a number of areas including:
Department of Justice and Equality
- Understaffing in the Data Protection Commission, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, and the Probation Service appears to have impacted the ability of these agencies to fulfil their functions. The Committee recommends that the Department of Justice and Equality ensures the staffing needs of the Department’s agencies are met in a more timely way.
- The system to move individuals who have been granted legal status to reside in Ireland out of accommodation centres and into permanent housing is not adequate. The Committee recommends that the Department of Justice and Equality works with local authorities and appropriate bodies to ensure that individuals who receive legal status to reside in Ireland are assisted to move out of accommodation centres as speedily as possible.
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
- It is unacceptable that 6,000 children had not been allocated a social worker by Tusla even though the Department surrendered €58.7m to the Exchequer in 2017. The Committee recommends that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs works with Tusla to ensure that all children requiring a social worker are allocated one and that gaps in the system are eliminated, especially where funding has been provided.
- It is not clear that contracts with private agencies to provide residential and foster care services are appropriately managed. These contracts provided services for 260 children at a cost of €100 million in 2017 and many of the contracts were in place prior to Tusla’s establishment. The Committee recommends that Tusla reviews all contracts with private agencies for the provision of residential and foster care services.
Matters related to the management of state claims
- The number and cost of claims against the State continues to escalate year on year, particularly claims arising from clinical negligence. To date there is no evidence of a functioning systems-wide approach in the Health Service Executive to incorporate learnings from associated incidents across the entire health sector. The failure to incorporate learnings is itself likely to contribute to the increase of such claims. The Committee recommends that the Health Service Executive, in conjunction with the State Claims Agency and the Department of Health, puts in place a formal system to incorporate learnings from incidents of clinical negligence across the health sector in order to reduce the number of such incidents in the future.
Independents 4 Change