Tax Data

Ceisteanna (138)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

138. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the sectoral breakdown of revenue returns in each of the years 2013 to 2016, including PAYE, corporate tax, self employment and those employed via RCT1s, in tabular form. [31551/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that a tax receipts by sector table is available on the Revenue Statistics website at: http://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/receipts/receipts-sector.aspx.

This table provides the annual net receipts for PAYE, self employed Income Tax and Corporation Tax, as well other taxes, and is broken down across the various sectors for the years 2011 – 2016.

I am further informed by Revenue that RCT is a withholding tax that applies to certain payments by principal contractors to subcontractors in the construction, forestry and meat-processing industries and a sectoral breakdown is not available.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (139)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

139. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the number of civil servants in his Department who have requested a transfer to a location outside County Dublin; the number of civil servants in his Department who have requested a transfer from a location outside of Dublin to County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31778/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I wish to inform the Deputy that there are a number of  ways for staff to apply for a transfer.

Staff can apply directly to the Department/Office they wish to move to or apply for a "Head to Head" transfer via their Union Magazine. My Department would not initially be aware of such applications made by a member of staff through their Union Magazine.

In relation to the Deputy's question, in 2015, three staff based in Dublin applied to be transferred to my Department's Tullamore Office.  Of the three, one staff member has since transferred to my Department's Office in Tullamore and another member of staff transferred to the D/PER Payroll Shared Services Centre in Tullamore.

Also in 2015, two staff based in my Department's Tullamore Office applied to be transferred to the Department's Office in Dublin. Of the two, one staff member has since transferred to the D/PER Payroll Shared Services Centre in Tullamore.

There were no applications for transfer from staff in 2016 and 2017 to a location outside County Dublin or from a location outside of Dublin into County Dublin.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform conducted a pilot of a Service Wide Mobility Scheme in a limited number of locations earlier this year. It is hoped that Phase 1 of the Scheme will be launched some time in Q3 2017. My Department will then be aware of any transfer applications made through that forum for staff at Executive Officer and Clerical Officer level.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (140)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

140. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the grades of persons working in the national shared services office; if these posts are permanent; if positions become vacant, if the persons will be replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30883/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The National Shared Services Office (NSSO) is established on an administrative basis within my Department. In the conduct of its business the NSSO employs staff at the following grades:

- Deputy Secretary

- Assistant Secretary

- Principal Officer

- Assistant Principal Officer

- Higher Executive Officer

- Executive Officer

- Clerical Officer

All of the above posts are permanent posts and positions are filled when they become vacant in line with business requirements and expenditure management guidelines. Recruitment to these posts is governed by the Public Service (Management and Recruitment) Act 2004. Under the Act, the method of appointment to a permanent Civil Service post is as a result of being successful in a competition run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) or by another licence holder such as the head of a Department or Office. Selection processes are open to all eligible applicants who meet minimum entry criteria. 

The NSSO also employs staff at Temporary Clerical Officer level. These posts are temporary and while in the main, vacancies in the Civil service are filled on a permanent basis, temporary vacancies arise from time to time to cover such absences as maternity leave or shorter working year. Temporary Clerical Officer (TCO) positions in the Civil Service are filled by an annual competition conducted by the PAS.

Decisions on the filling of posts, permanent or otherwise, in other public service bodies are a matter for the employing bodies in the context of their business needs.

Flood Relief Schemes Applications

Ceisteanna (141)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

141. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason for the delay in the OPW formally approving the lower Morrell river flood relief scheme and the funding of same in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30948/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Kildare County Council (KCC) is the Contracting Authority for the Lower Morrell River Flood Relief Scheme and the Council is managing and overseeing the necessary work to progress and deliver the scheme.

The OPW has now written formally to KCC confirming its approval to provide the necessary funding to the Council to bring the scheme to completion.

I am advised that the documentation required to submit the scheme for planning approval is almost finalised and it is expected that the scheme will be submitted for approval shortly.

State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (142)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

142. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has given consideration to removing or extending the mandatory retirement age within the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31298/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

An Interdepartmental Working Group, chaired by my Department was established in 2016 to examine the issues arising from prevailing retirement ages for workers in both the public and private sectors, in the context of the current age of entitlement to the State Pension and the scheduled increases to the State Pension age in 2021 and 2028. 

The Group, whose Report was agreed by Government last August, considered policy around retirement age in both the public and private sectors, examining implications arising from retirement ages now and in the future. The Group identified a set of framework principles to underpin policy in the area and made a number of recommendations assigned to Government Departments and Employer bodies for follow-up in that regard.  A copy of the Report is available online at  http://www.per.gov.ie/en/report-of-the-interdepartmental-group-on-fuller-working-lives.    

On foot of one of the recommendations of the Report my Department, with Public Service employers, was tasked to review the current statutory and operational considerations giving rise to barriers to extended participation in the public service workforce up to and including the current age of entitlement to the Contributory State Pension.  In the context of the review, which is well advanced, meetings were held with employers from all public service sectors, including the civil service, local authority and health sectors, supplemented by further interactions and discussions with the employers. 

Future policy in this area will be considered by Government following the outcome of the review.

Any change in the compulsory retirement ages for public servants would require primary legislation.

Public Expenditure Policy

Ceisteanna (143)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

143. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the IMF projection that Ireland will have the lowest level of public spending to GDP ratio in the entire eurozone by 2021 with current policy trends; and his further views on whether such a low level of spending will have consequences for the future provision of public services and infrastructure. [31356/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

There are a number of issues affecting cross country comparisons of public expenditure both now and in the future:

1. Revisions to Ireland's GDP level for 2015, published by the CSO, highlight that the ratios based on public expenditure as a percentage of GDP must be interpreted with very significant caution.

2. Furthermore, given Ireland's relatively young population, adjusting for the demographic profile of the population also impacts on comparisons with other European countries. This is illustrated on page 14 of the Mid-Year Expenditure Report 2016 which shows adjusted public expenditure in Ireland in 2014 (as a % of GNI) being above the EU average when account is taken of defence and age-related expenditure.

3. Analysis of public spending on a per-capita basis can also provide a different perspective.  A recent analysis by the Nevin Economic Research Institute found that Ireland ranks 10th amongst 11 high-income EU countries when public expenditure, excluding interest, is ranked on a per capita basis. This analysis placed Ireland's public expenditure per capita ahead of per-capita expenditure in the UK.  A comparison based on expenditure as a percentage of GDP would place Ireland's spending below the UK.  

Budget 2017 marked the third year in succession that gross voted expenditure has been increased. Over the period 2015 to 2017 gross voted expenditure has increased by an annual average of 3 per cent. The focus over the coming years must remain on sustainable increases that are affordable both now and in the future. 

There is also a requirement to examine not only the amount of resources allocated towards expenditure but also the impact of this expenditure. In this fiscal context, the ongoing review and evaluation of existing programmes and expenditure, rather than targeting a certain expenditure to GDP ratio, can better support effective delivery of public services.

Debt Collection

Ceisteanna (144)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

144. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of measures to improve debt collection across Government; and the administrative costs associated with debt collection initiatives across Government, in tabular form. [31503/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In 2013 the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform commissioned a review of the management of debt across five areas: the HSE, Local Government, the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the Courts Service. Following a procurement exercise, BearingPoint were appointed to conduct the review.

The Debt Management Review was published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in July 2014. The review contained a number of cross-departmental recommendations such as data sharing, attachments to bank accounts/earnings, cross-sectoral sanctions and offsetting against state payments. A copy of this review is available on the Department’s website.

Arising from the initial review, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform established a Debt Management Implementation Project Board to carry out a number of measures to improve levels of debt collection across the five in-scope bodies. This Project Board was chaired by Lorcan O’Connor, Director of the Insolvency Service of Ireland and was comprised of senior representatives from in-scope bodies and relevant Departments. The Department also procured and contracted a Project Manager with significant expertise in the field of debt collection to administer this programme of work.

A detailed outline of the work of the Project Board is contained in the final report of the Debt Management Implementation Project. This document is also available on the Department's website.

The Project Board's final report sets out the significant progress that has been made since the publication of the initial Debt Management Review in 2014. Since the original Review was published, collections covering the periods of  2014 and 2015 increased by over €160m.

Improvement programmes introduced by the Debt Management Implementation Project Board (including qualitative and quantitative targets for 2016 – 2018) have been set for each of the in-scope public service bodies. If implemented successfully, the improvement programmes for 2016-2018, in tandem with improved economic conditions, are projected to contribute an additional €700m in collections for the exchequer.

Finally, in order to encourage consistency across the Public Service concerning how debt is managed, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform procured and published a best practice guide on debt management. The Department also provided Finance Officers across Government with a set of sample policies and procedures in relation to the management of debt.

The costs associated with this cross-Departmental programme of work are outlined in the following table:

Programme Item:

Successful Tenderer:

Cost (including VAT and expenses):

Review of Debt Management (published in July 2014)

BearingPoint

€135,514

Project Manager for the Debt Management Implementation   Project

BearingPoint

€220,147

Best Practice Guide for the Management of Debt in Public   Service Bodies (including a set of sample policies and procedures)

BearingPoint

 €30,387

National Training Fund

Ceisteanna (145)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

145. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 369 of 20 June 2017, if it is possible to vary the rate employers pay in the national training levy to the proposed employer contribution mechanism according to the assumed benefit they derive from higher education training or alternatively to varying contributions by sector whereby employers in more high skilled sectors pay a higher contribution, which was not addressed in the original response. [30873/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The issue the Deputy raises regarding the use of differential rates was one of a number of issues raised in the recent consultation process that the Minister for Education and Skill and I held. 

As I highlighted in my previous response to the Deputy, both Departments are now actively considering all of the issues raised as part of the consultation process including the specific matter referred to in the Deputy's question. 

This consideration will include how to ensure greater employer engagement with the Fund and the types of programmes it funds. This will be to ensure that all sectors, including those who feel furthest removed from the benefits of the Fund, have the opportunity to engage with and benefit from the Fund. 

It is also important that there is greater transparency on what and how the fund delivers on its core objectives - coupled with an administratively straightforward and transparent mechanism for funding the NTF, from both business and the State perspective.

National Training Fund

Ceisteanna (146, 147, 148)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

146. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 369 of 20 June 2017, if the National Training Fund Act 2000 was amended appropriately, if it would be possible to use a portion of the accumulated surplus and-or annual surplus of the NTF for capital funding in the further or higher education sectors. [30874/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

147. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether it is justified to ask employers to contribute more to the NTF via the employers' levy in view of the fact that the fund already has such a large surplus which is not being used. [30876/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

148. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 369 of 20 June 2017, if he will answer the original question which requested information on whether he has sought approval from EUROSTAT on whether it would be permissible under the fiscal rules to use the surplus from the National Training Fund levy for capital expenditure, which was not answered in the original response. [30877/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 to 148, inclusive, together.

The Fiscal Rules were not developed by Eurostat and they have no oversight on the assessment of compliance, therefore it is not necessary to consult with or seek approval from them.  The assessment of compliance is undertaken by the European Commission (EC) in terms of the EU Fiscal Rules and by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) in terms of the domestic Budgetary Rule.

The EC and IFAC use the Eurostat estimates of General Government Expenditure on the European system of accounts 2010 basis (ESA 2010) to assess the growth in expenditure year-on-year to determine whether Ireland complies with the spending growth limits set out by the Expenditure Benchmark. The operation of the Expenditure Benchmark is set out very clearly in the Vade Mecum of the Stability and Growth Pact, published by the European Commission.

As set out in the Vade Mecum, the only means by which to increase expenditure beyond the limits set out in the Expenditure Benchmark is through the introduction of a Discretionary Revenue Measure (DRM), which would cause revenues to permanently increase.  The use of a fund surplus does not count as a DRM and cannot therefore be used to fund additional expenditure over and above the limits set out in the Expenditure Benchmark.

However, the introduction of an increased employer PRSI contribution to go directly towards the NTF would constitute a DRM, as this is a policy decision to permanently increase revenue flows into the fund. The additional revenues raised by such a measure could then be used to fund additional NTF expenditure and provision of services.  

Regarding the Deputy's question on the justification to ask employers to contribute more to the NTF while the Fund carries a significant surplus.  Firstly, I would stress that the Fund, including its surplus, as set out in the legislation, can only be specifically used to raise skills of those in employment, to provide training to those who are wishing to acquire skills to take up employment or to provide information on the existing and future skills need of the economy. 

Regarding using the NTF for capital expenditure; as previously indicated the implications of using the fund for any other purpose, including capital expenditure, requires consideration of whether the utilisation of the surplus would be in conformity with the Expenditure Benchmark rule since as set out above, use of the surplus would consume fiscal space.  To increase expenditure from the NTF, as the Deputy suggested, requires a policy decision to permanently increase revenue flows into the fund - in this instance a proposed increase in the NTF levy.  It is the additional revenues of this policy change that can then be used for future funding needs.  The current surplus in the Fund does not represent additional revenues.

Public Sector Staff

Ceisteanna (149)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

149. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the implementation of the interdepartmental report on fuller working lives to review the public service workforce, particularly relating to the age of retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30882/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

On foot of one of the recommendations of the Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Fuller Working Lives, my Department, with Public Service employers, was tasked to review the current statutory and operational considerations giving rise to barriers to extended participation in the public service workforce up to and including the current and planned age of entitlement to the Contributory State Pension.

In the context of the review, which is well advanced, meetings were held with employers from all public service sectors, including the civil service, local authority and health sectors, supplemented by further interactions and discussions with the employers. 

Future policy in this area will be considered by Government following the outcome of the review, at which time the report of the review will be published. 

Any change in the compulsory retirement age for public servants will require primary legislation.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (150)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

150. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of civil servants in his Department who have requested a transfer to a location outside County Dublin; the number of civil servants in his Department who have requested a transfer from a location outside of Dublin to County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30975/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My Department does not currently hold central information on the numbers on transfer lists.  This information, where available, is held by individual Departments only.

As you will be aware, Action 15 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan has a commitment to develop a mobility scheme within the Civil Service. Work on this scheme is ongoing with the Civil Service Management Board, Departments and staff interests.

We are currently developing Phase 1 of the scheme for the general service grades of CO – EO which we plan to launch later in the year. Phase 2 of the scheme will be developed following implementation of Phase 1 and will include the general service grades of HEO, AO and AP.

The scheme will be centralised and my Department will have the facility to report on numbers on lists per department and location following its successful launch.

In relation to staff within my own Department, the central Department has offices in Dublin and Tullamore.  Information is not available on actual transfer applications outside of the Department as where staff apply for a transfer, these requests are usually made directly to the department/office which they are looking to transfer to.

My Department is also responsible for the National Shared Services Office (NSSO) and the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and I have provided the information in relation to these organisations separately below, along with the response from the Office of Public Works

National Shared Services Office (NSSO) Staff

The NSSO Offices are located in Dublin, Renmore, Co Galway, Killarney, Co Kerry and Tullamore Co. Offaly. There have been no requests for lateral moves to Dublin from NSSO locations outside County Dublin.

Office of Government Procurement (OGP)

  The OGP Offices are located in Dublin, Trim (Meath), Sligo, Cork and Limerick.  The number of transfer requests are set out as follows.

Date

Requests     

2017  

2016  

2015  

Totals  

Requests     

2017  

2016  

2015  

Totals  

Transfer requests for NSSO locations   outside Dublin

5

13

1

19

Transfer requests for OGP locations   outside Dublin

2

5

1

8

Transfers Approved

Internal Transfers from Dublin to NSSO   locations outside Dublin

6

3

0

9

Internal Transfers from Dublin to OGP   locations outside Dublin

1

1

0

2

              

Office of Public Works (OPW)

In relation to the Office of Public Works, one civil servant who is currently assigned to the Dublin Office has requested a transfer out of Dublin.

In addition, the number of State Industrial Employees who have requested a transfer to Dublin is 4 and the number requesting a transfer out of Dublin is 6.

Public Sector Pensions

Ceisteanna (151)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

151. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the restoration of pension payments to public sector workers who had their pensions cut in the past number of years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30989/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) reduces the value of those public service pensions which have pre-PSPR values above specified thresholds. It does so in a progressively structured way which has a proportionately greater effect on higher value pensions.

A very significant part-unwinding of PSPR in three stages is taking place under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015, with PSPR-affected pensioners getting pension increases via substantial restoration of the PSPR cuts on 1 January 2016, 1 January 2017 and 1 January 2018.

On 1 January 2016 all pensions of up to at least €18,700 became exempt from PSPR; from 1 January 2017, all pensions of up to at least €26,000 are now exempt from PSPR, and from 1 January 2018 all pensions of up to at least €34,132 per year will be exempt from PSPR. Those pensioners not fully removed from the reach of PSPR by dint of these changes will, in the majority of cases, benefit by €1,680 per year from 2018. The cost of these changes is estimated at about €90 million on a full-year basis from 2018.

Community Sector High Level Forum

Ceisteanna (152)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

152. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a report on the work of the high level forum on the community and voluntary sector which is led by his Department; the names of those on the forum; the number of times the forum has met; and the specific issues the forum is currently working on. [31073/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Community Sector High Level Forum was reconvened in 2015 since when it has met four times. Previously approved meeting minutes are publicly available on my Department's website and contain the names of the participants on the Forum. 

The Forum is tasked with providing for the exchange of views on a range of issues relating to the sector and is currently considering the specific matter of pension provision for Community Employment scheme supervisors.  A detailed scoping exercise is currently underway on this matter and will be concluded later this year.

The position has always been that FÁS or the Department of Social Protection is not the employer and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme to employees of private companies even if those companies are, or were, reliant on State funding.  In considering the matter, I must have regard to costs and the precedent of such an arrangement were one to be created.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (153)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

153. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 394 of 20 June 2017, the amount spent by each Department on courses at an institution (details supplied) for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31078/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I have included a table provided by the Institute of Public Administration which sets out the amount spent by each government department on programmes at the Institute over the past five years.

The table does not take account of income derived from accredited programmes from certificate to doctorate level. These programmes come under the Post Entry Education Scheme where the fees are paid directly by the student to the IPA and a refund is received by the student from their own parent Department.

Each Department is responsible for the operation of the Post Entry Education Scheme in that Department.  The information in respect of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is as set out in the second table.

Department

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017 YTD

Total

Agriculture

              33,811.00

                6,782.00

              6,640.00

          45,536.55

                       810.00

93,579.55

Arts

                 8,110.00

             34,379.27

           10,386.25

          68,672.53

                   9,990.00

131,538.05

Children

                     250.00

             19,319.00

           23,687.00

          23,235.00

                 26,745.00

93,236.00

Communications

                 1,700.00

                9,276.46

              5,455.00

          20,803.00

                       100.00

37,334.46

Defence

              42,689.61

             37,739.96

           37,119.78

          36,349.96

                   3,041.65

156,940.96

Education

              20,590.00

             24,219.62

              3,095.00

          49,786.84

                 25,004.74

122,696.20

Finance

              16,407.17

             25,555.13

           10,686.72

          26,988.50

                   4,680.00

84,317.52

Foreign Affairs

              28,736.70

             17,327.50

           19,139.22

          51,765.10

                 20,600.00

137,568.52

Health

              11,927.50

             22,870.00

           18,095.00

          65,640.00

                 27,510.00

146,042.50

Housing

              57,759.60

             92,921.65

           73,535.52

       169,157.31

                 24,327.50

417,701.58

Jobs

              15,742.00

             10,365.48

           22,325.00

          18,670.00

                   7,205.00

74,307.48

Justice

                 3,150.00

             19,445.00

           11,033.99

          72,665.00

                 21,500.00

127,793.99

Public Expenditure

              37,481.97

             27,520.95

        124,049.10

          76,095.65

                   2,600.00

267,747.67

Social Protection

              15,529.79

             15,107.42

           12,700.00

          48,818.67

                   9,170.00

101,325.88

Taoiseach

0

                3,570.00

              3,295.00

             1,750.00

                   5,450.00

14,065.00

Transport

                 2,785.00

             24,890.00

           22,470.00

          19,407.44

                 12,625.18

82,177.62

2,088,372.98

Department of Public Expenditure & Reform

Post-Entry Education Spend - 2013-2017

Academic Year

Educational Institute

Total

2013-2014

IPA

€40,300.00

2014-2015

IPA

€43,940.00

2015-2016

IPA

€180,515.00

2016-2017

IPA

€122,835.00

Brexit Data

Ceisteanna (154)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

154. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there is a senior official with designated responsibility for Brexit matters in his Department; if so, the grade of the designated official; the funding allocated to the said Brexit unit; the cost to date in 2017; the anticipated cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31278/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The head of my Department’s Brexit/EU/North South Unit is responsible for coordinating Brexit issues in the Department.  The Unit oversees Brexit work across the Department and acts as the contact point with the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and other Government Departments.  It is represented on the Inter-Departmental Group on Brexit and related groups, and supports me in my work on Brexit.  Brexit issues are also addressed by staff in relevant areas across the Department.  The cost of the Brexit/EU/North South Unit is met from within the Department’s existing budget and is kept under review.

Appointments to State Boards

Ceisteanna (155)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

155. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of vacancies, including vacancies on boards and so on, advertised via the Public Appointments Service in 2015 and 2016 by Department and agency; the number of interviews held by the Public Appointments Service for each vacancy; the criteria for assessment in the event of interviews not proceeding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31329/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am assuming the deputy is referring to vacancies on State Board.

Guidelines on appointments to State Boards were issued in November 2014 and since then all vacancies on State Boards are advertised on the portal, www.stateboards.ie, operated by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).  Each vacancy sets out specific and detailed criteria and the PAS operate a transparent assessment system to evaluate all applications against these criteria. All Information Booklets are available in the archive section at www.stateboards.ie/stateboards/archive.htm.

Full details on the number of campaigns and vacancies on State Boards advertised since the introduction of the Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards to date are available at www.stateboards.ie/stateboards/activitiesStatistics.htm.

The design of the assessment process in respect of any individual board vacancy may include all the usual and standard elements of assessment processes including formal interviews.

Over 2015 and 2016, some 122 campaigns were advertised and for 11 of those campaigns the Assessment Panels met with candidates.

The names of applicants deemed to meet the criteria are then forwarded to the Minister for consideration for appointment.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (156)

John Curran

Ceist:

156. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made on the commitment in the programme for a partnership Government to introduce a new in-school speech and language therapy service creating stronger linkages between parents, teachers and speech and language therapists (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30871/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Programme for a Partnership Government states that a new model of In-School Speech and Language Therapy will be established. It also contains a commitment to examine the adequacy of the present policies and provision, and their scope for improvement, particularly in relation to speech and language difficulties and early intervention.

As Speech and Language Therapists are currently employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE), officials at my Department are engaging with colleagues in the Department of Health and the HSE to review the existing level of Speech and language therapy provision and to conduct an audit of services nationally.

The review is being overseen by the Interdepartmental Cross Sectoral team which has a role to coordinate and integrate the provision of health and educational services.

At the Cross-Sectoral Team meeting of 24 May last, the HSE informed the group that it has reviewed the provision of Speech and Language Therapy services and that the report of the national group was completed at the end of March.

The report is currently being considered by the National Directors for Primary Care and for Social Care and it is expected that this report will be circulated as soon as possible thereafter.

The review of existing services will guide the implementation of the Programme for Government commitment.

Pending the development of any new speech and language therapy delivery model my Department continues to provide an extensive range of supports for pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD), through the provision of special classes for pupils with SSLD in primary schools, and through additional Special Educational Needs teaching supports provided to all schools.

National Training Fund

Ceisteanna (157)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

157. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that in every year since its establishment except for 2012 and 2014 there was an annual surplus in the National Training Fund, including in years with very significant increases in unemployment and training needs of the population; his further views on whether the size of the accumulated surplus of the fund and the fact that it is not even used in times of high unemployment indicates that the fund is not being well managed and used appropriately to fund national training needs; and the rationale for having such a large surplus in the fund when it is not used during times of national employment crisis. [30875/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The amount collected through the National Training Fund levy has varied over the last number of years due to increases and more recently decreases in unemployment levels.  Receipts went from a high of €413m in 2008 to €299m in 2012 and have increased to €364m in 2015 and €390m in 2016 reflecting the continued improvement in employment levels in recent years.

The accumulated surplus in the fund has been critical in maintaining expenditure levels, particularly in the provision of training for the unemployed, in the years when receipts were falling.  It is considered prudent to continue to maintain an adequate surplus in the Fund to meet demand in future years and it should be noted that, while the current surplus of €232 million represents a very significant sum, it would only cover 9 months NTF expenditure at current levels. A total of €362 million has been available annually over the last number of years from the NTF for training for employed and unemployed people. In 2017, funding of €366 million will be provided for training activities from the NTF.

While the NTF does not form part of the Vote of the Department of Education and Skills (DES), the allocation for each scheme is determined as part of the annual Estimates process. The NTF is included as an annex to the published Estimates of the Department and such funding is included in the overall expenditure ceiling for DES since 2011.  This means that overall expenditure from the Fund cannot be increased, even where receipts increase, without a corresponding drop in voted expenditure. The surplus remains available for investment in education and training programmes to meet skills needs.

I am reviewing the allocation of funding to programmes in the Further Education and Training and Higher Education sectors as between NTF and Exchequer sources in terms both of the emphasis required on training for employment and training persons in employment and of satisfying the needs of enterprise to meet strategic skills requirements. One objective of this review is to direct NTF allocations in a manner that best reflects enterprise priorities as identified through the revised national skills architecture.

Student Grant Scheme

Ceisteanna (158, 159)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

158. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of increasing the non-adjacent maintenance grant to €4,025 for full-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, respectively. [30801/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

159. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of increasing the adjacent maintenance grant to €2,215 for full-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, respectively. [30802/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 and 159 together.

Based on data for the 2015/16 grant scheme, the estimated cost of increasing the 100% maintenance grants by €1,000 would be €26.7m for adjacent students and €29.2m for non-adjacent students.

Extending the 100% maintenance grants to postgraduate students and increasing the current values by €1,000, is estimated to cost €2.6m for adjacent students and €5.1m for non-adjacent students.