Managing the delivery of public services within allocations and meeting our budgetary targets forms a key part of the responsibilities of every Minister and Department. My own Department is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters. Monthly expenditure profiles for each Government Department for 2019 will be published this month. The January Fiscal Monitor, published this week, presents a year-on-year comparison. From February on, as is usual, the drawdown of funds from the Exchequer will be reported on each month against expenditure profiles, in the Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance.
Due to the scale of Government expenditure and the cash basis of Government accounting, the need for Supplementary Estimates can arise for a number of reasons, including policy decisions, timing issues and overspends. Supplementary Estimates are an important element of our expenditure management toolkit, allowing for the proper alignment of resources with allocations. However, they can only be provided within the context of our overall fiscal parameters.
In 2018, Supplementary Estimates made provision for additional funding in a number of areas, including for:
- Overruns in the Health sector;
- Superannuation pressures in Education;
- Garda pay and overtime;
- Overseas Development Aid;
- Housing and homelessness services;
- A 100 per cent Social Welfare Christmas Bonus;
- Costs relating to the Papal visit;
- The Community Childcare Scheme; and
- Army pensions.
In some cases, there were underspends within Vote groups that could be used to offset overspends in other areas. After taking account of additional expenditure funded by way of Supplementary Estimates, the net voted expenditure outturn for the year of €50.4 billion, published in the December 2018 Fiscal Monitor, was €0.8 billion above the level set out in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2018, but close to the 2018 net voted expenditure amount set out in Expenditure Report 2019 published on Budget day last October. Taking into account the various moving parts within the overall tax and spending figures reported in the end-year Exchequer returns, based upon the Exchequer figures, a small general government surplus is now possible for 2018. A modest deficit of 0.1% was projected for 2018 in the recent Budget last October.
In setting out the proposed allocations for 2019, published in the Expenditure Report 2019, account was taken of the ongoing impact into 2019 of the increased level of resources that it was proposed to allocate to Departments by way of Supplementary Estimate in 2018. Given this context and the increased allocations set out in REV 2019 it is important that Departments manage the delivery of services this year within these allocations.