Budget 2017

Ceisteanna (241)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

241. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount designated for demographics in each budget since budget 2017; if an ex-post analysis has been undertaken to assess the validity of these figures; if there will be a new analysis undertaken by IGEES on demographics; if it will cover all Departments as against just Health, Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Education and Skills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Current estimates of certain demographic pressures in the areas of Health, Social Protection and Education were set out in Expenditure Report 2019 and included in the pre-committed current expenditure baseline for the period to 2021. These costs are set out again on an aggregate level in the recently published Summer Economic Statement. 

The amounts allocated for demographics and included in the relevant pre-Budget expenditure position for the Departments of Health, Social Protection and Education from 2018 to 2020 are set out in the following table.

Estimated Demographic Pressures 2018 to 2020 (€m)

 

2018

2019

2020

Health

118

123

137

Employment Affairs and Social   Protection

233

241

260

Education

57

49

54

Total

408

413

451

These allocations are informed by the paper ‘Budgetary Impacts of Changing Demographics 2017 – 2027’, published by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES). The paper can be found on the IGEES website here: https://igees.gov.ie/budgetary-impact-of-changing-demographics-2017-to-2027/.

This paper covers a number of areas of expenditure, including pensions, child benefit, education provision and health schemes such as the Nursing Home Support Scheme. These pure demographic costs are factored in to Ministerial Expenditure Ceilings for Health, Social Protection and Education.

As part of the 2019 Spending Review process, an update of this paper is due to be published in the coming months. This forthcoming paper will again look at the key areas of Health, Social Protection and Education and will examine demographic pressures in these areas over a ten year period. In light of this publication, demographic estimates will be reassessed as part of the Estimates 2020 process.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (242)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

242. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount in supplementary funding allocated in each of the past five years to each Department by capital and current expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Supplementary Estimates by Vote for each of the last five years, on a net voted expenditure basis are available at the following link:

Appendix 1

The tables for each year reflect the Vote structure that was in place in that year. In a number of cases, a negative amount has been included for either current or capital expenditure. These negative figures represent amounts that were available within a particular Vote to offset overspends in another area within that same Vote. For example, underspends on capital expenditure which were used to offset additional current expenditure.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (243)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

243. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expenditure ceilings by each Department since the three year expenditure ceiling was introduced; the revised expenditure ceiling for each Department over the three years; the actual spend from each Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Expenditure Report 2014 was the first in which multi-annual Ministerial Expenditure Ceilings were published, setting out baseline gross voted current, capital and total expenditure for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The Ministerial Expenditure Ceilings as published in each Expenditure Report from Budget 2014 to Budget 2019 are available at the following link:

Expenditure

This spreadsheet also sets out the outturn for each Department for 2014 to 2018.

The expenditure ceilings are presented here as they were published in each Expenditure Report from 2014 to 2019. As such, they do not reflect any transfers of functions or technical adjustments which have occurred within the period. As a result, ceilings may not be directly comparable for all Vote groups across the period. The transfers of functions that have taken place between 2014 and 2019 are set out at the following link:

. Expenditure Ceilings

A number of technical adjustments also impact on analysis of the 2014 to 2019 period. Significant among these are changes made in 2017 to funding for Irish Water. Following the enactment of the Water Services Act 2017, all Motor Tax receipts are paid into the Exchequer, rather than the Local Government Fund, and all State funding for domestic water services is provided through the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. This resulted in an increase in gross voted expenditure in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2018 for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government of €792 million.  This increase had no impact on overall General Government expenditure. 

On the Defence Vote, from 2015 onwards, the purchase of military equipment was reclassified as capital expenditure rather than current expenditure. This accounts for the apparent rise in Defence capital expenditure that occurs between Budget 2015 and Budget 2016. Conversely, REV 2015 reflected the disestablishment of the HSE Vote with expenditure of the HSE now met by way of a grant from the Department of Health Vote.  As a consequence, certain income previously recognised as appropriations-in-aid on the HSE Vote is now retained by the HSE and is no longer reflected in gross expenditure ceilings or outturns from 2015 on.

HSE Expenditure

Ceisteanna (244)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

244. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he receives monthly financial reports on the costs and revenue incurred in the month from the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Health Vote is in regular contact with the Department of Health regarding expenditure management. Each month, the drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is reported on against published expenditure profiles in the Fiscal Monitor, published by the Department of Finance.

In addition, the HSE monthly Management Data Reports which include the information outlined above are shared with officials in my Department, albeit with some time lag. To date in 2019, officials from my Department have received reports pertaining to January - April. All of these reports are publicly available on the HSE website.  

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (245, 246)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

245. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of capital projects being undertaken by his Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31080/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

246. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefor in each case in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31096/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 245 and 246 together.

My Department has not previously had any capital projects over the value indicated by the Deputy’s office (€5 million). Similarly, the Department has no capital investment planned in projects over this value.

Due to the nature of its role, my Department does not have any major capital projects. 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.

Public Expenditure Data

Ceisteanna (247)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

247. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the percentage growth in current spending, capital spending and total spending in each of the years since 2000; the percentage movement in GDP and GNP; the General Government Balance in percentage terms in each year in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31159/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The percentage growth in gross voted current, capital and total expenditure from 2000 to 2019 is available at the following link:

Figures

. These expenditure figures are available on databank.per.gov.ie.

In a number of years, there are technical changes which impact on the year-on-year increases.

This includes the disestablishment of the HSE Vote in 2014, with expenditure of the HSE now met by way of a grant from the Department of Health Vote.  As a consequence, certain income previously recognised as appropriations-in-aid on the HSE Vote is now retained by the HSE and is no longer reflected in gross expenditure ceilings or outturns from 2015 on.

Another significant alteration includes changes to the arrangements for funding of domestic water services in 2017. This impacted on the year-on-year increase from 2017 to 2018. Following the enactment of the Water Services Act 2017, all Motor Tax receipts are paid into the Exchequer, rather than the Local Government Fund, and all State funding for domestic water services is provided through the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. This resulted in an increase in gross voted expenditure in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2018 for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government of €792 million.  This increase had no impact on overall General Government expenditure. 

Also included in the spreadsheet is the percentage movement in both GDP and GNP (based on current market prices) from 2000 to 2019. For 2000 – 2018, this data is sourced from CSO.ie.  The General Government Balance as a percentage of GDP figures presented here are also from the CSO. For 2019, the Department of Finance projections are provided, as published in the 2019 Stability Programme Update.  

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (248)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

248. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 5 March 2019, when the Chief State Solicitors Office and the OPW will meet with the parties affected by the manner in which the site was assembled especially in circumstances in which new facts have come to light which will assist the investigation and resolution of the matters. [31175/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As set out in my reply of the 5th March 2019, the issues in this case are complex and require significant examination. At this stage I would like to invite the Deputy to contact my office to arrange a meeting with my officials from the Property Management Division to discuss matters further.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (249)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

249. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the oversight of his Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by his Department following these results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

All Government Departments and public bodies in receipt of public funding must comply, as appropriate, with the relevant requirements of Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) Circulars, Public Financial Procedures, Public Spending Code, the Civil Service Corporate Governance Standard or Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, and Government Procurement rules.  It is, of course, a matter for each Department and public body concerned to ensure that there are appropriate oversight arrangements and structures in place to ensure that this overall framework is fully implemented in all cases.

Specifically in terms of DPER Circulars, these are issued by the relevant Divisions of the Department to contact points in other Government Departments.  Those Departments must then comply with the Circulars and also have responsibility for circulating these to the bodies under their aegis.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (250)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

250. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department in 2019 at which climate change and or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31346/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My Department and I are committed to making a strong contribution to the collective efforts that we all need to make in respect of climate action.  For this reason, latest developments in respect of climate action are regularly discussed at the Department’s weekly Management Board meetings.  I attend these meetings once a quarter and the matter also features then.

Other opportunities are also taken to have more in-depth discussion on climate change and climate action – for example, this has featured as a topic at both the Management Board Policy Forum and at last year's DPER Annual Management Conference, when there was a dedicated session on Climate Change with two external expert speakers and 120 staff. 

Like other Departments, my Department is also playing a role in relation to specific Government initiatives in this area - for example, in respect of energy performance and also the recent development of a Resource Efficiency Action Plan.  My Department is hosting a workshop in September to outline to Energy Performance Officers in the bodies under the aegis of my Department good practice examples in managing the achievement of energy efficiency targets under the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy.

More generally, I have attended Cabinet Committee meetings where Climate Action was on the agenda on the following dates: 31 January 2019, 27 May 2019 and 1 February 2018.  Finally, the Deputy may wish to note that my Department has a climate change unit who input into the inter-Departmental climate structures and ensure that I am briefed on climate developments.

Civil Service Staff Data

Ceisteanna (251)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

251. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of civil servants that applied to transfer from Dublin zone 46 to another zone by grade in each Department and agency under the Civil Service mobility scheme launched on 13 November 2017; the number of civil servants that requested a transfer to Dublin zone 46 by grade in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31443/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As advised in the replies to Questions No.53934/18 of 18/12/2018 and No.17264/19 of 16/04/2019, an applicant may express a preference for mobility for up to 3 out of 46 Zones with an option to apply for any, or all organisations in Zone 1 to Zone 45, and up to 5 organisations in Zone 46 (Dublin). Staff members can apply for mobility within their current zone as well as other zones. A number of mobility zones also have an option to include or exclude a choice of satellite towns. 

There are currently 937 staff members (486 COs and 451 EOs), based in Zone 46 (Dublin), with applications for Mobility to organisations located outside of Dublin (see breakdown in table below). This equates to 13% of the c.7,000 participating staff members in Dublin while 87% wish to remain in their current location.

There are 55 staff members (37 COs and 18 EOs), based in locations outside of Dublin, with applications for mobility to organisations located in Zone 46.  

Phase 1B of the scheme which facilitates the general Civil Service grades of CO and EO for mobility within the zone of Dublin opened for applications on 14th June 2019. There are currently 635 staff members (347 COs and 288 EOs), based in Zone 46 (Dublin) with applications for Mobility to organisations located within Dublin. This equates to 9% of the c.7,000 participating staff members in Dublin wishing to move to another organisation in their chosen location. Local HR will be able to transact offers of mobility within the zone of Dublin with effect from 2nd September 2019.

As previously outlined, the Mobility scheme launched following an era of moratorium and low levels of staff transfers in the Civil Service and these factors would contribute to the initial high surge of interest in the scheme.

After 9 months of the scheme being live, it is also important to note that to date, 50% of initial offers have been refused by employees at pre offer stage. 

Phase 2 of the scheme which will facilitate the general Civil Service grades of AO, HEO and AP for mobility will launch at a later date.

Further information on the Mobility scheme is available to view at http://hr.per.gov.ie/civil-service-mobility/

Department

CO

EO

Grand Total

National Council for Special   Education

7

2

9

Dept of An Taoiseach

12

11

23

Central Statistics Office

2

5

7

Department of Finance

6

4

10

State Exams Commission

11

16

27

Revenue Commissioners

135

142

277

Office of Public Works

30

34

64

States Laboratory

54

45

99

Garda Civilians

114

85

199

Legal Aid Board

23

24

47

Department of Justice and Equality

17

18

35

Courts Service

19

10

29

Property Registration Authority

 

1

1

Department of Housing, Planning and   Local Government

1

 

1

Department of Education and Skills

12

10

22

NSSO

1

 

1

Office of Government Procurement

 

1

1

Communications, Climate Action and   Environment

 

1

1

Dept of Defence

6

7

13

Department of Social Protection

21

6

27

Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade

1

5

6

Department of Agriculture, Food &   Marine

9

23

32

Department of Arts, Heritage,   Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

2

 

2

Dept of Jobs, Enterprise and   Innovation

2

1

3

Department of Transport, Tourism and   Sport

1

 

1

 

486

451

937

Office of Public Works Data

Ceisteanna (252)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

252. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of participants in the Office of Public Works heritage card scheme in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the budget allocation in each year; and the number of designated heritage sites in which the card can be used in tabular form. [31444/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The number of Heritage Cards issued by OPW Heritage Services since 2016 were as follows:

2016

2017

2018

2019 (up to 2/6/2019)

18,390

14,483*

14,268*

4,304

* The lower sales of Heritage Cards in 2017 and 2018 reflect the provision in those years of complimentary admission to specific groups such as Children Under 12 and Persons with disabilities and their Carers.

The OPW's total Visitor Services budget allocation for the relevant years was as follows:

2016

2017

2018

2019

€8,215,000

€9,067,000

€9,308,000

€10,630,000

This allocation covers all areas of Visitor related expenditure including Guide pay and other non-pay items relevant to the presentation and promotion of the heritage sites managed by the OPW. The costs generally associated with administering the Heritage Card scheme are those relating to printing of the cards and are paid from the Visitor Services allocation. The printing and card fabrication costs were:

2016

2017

2018

2019 (up to 2/6/2019)

€25,765.20

€4,274.25

0*

0*

*No costs were incurred in 2018 or to date in 2019 due to stocks in hand.

The OPW Heritage Card is accepted at the following fee-charging sites:

OPW Sites

Non-OPW Sites

Adare Castle

Glenveagh Castle

Ardfert Cathedral

Muckross House

Athenry Castle

Aughnanure Castle

Battle of the Boyne/Oldbridge Estate

Blasket Centre

Boyle Abbey

Brú na Bóinne/Newgrange/Knowth

Cahir Castle

Carrowmore

Casino Marino

Castletown House

Céide Fields

Charles Fort

Clonmacnoise

Derrynane House

Doneraile House

Donegal Castle

Dublin Castle

Dún Aonghasa

Dunmore Cave

Emo Court House and Parklands

Ennis Friary

Farmleigh Estate

Garinish Island & Bryce House

Glebe House and Gallery

Glendalough Visitor Centre

Hill of Tara Visitor Centre

J F Kennedy Arboretum

Jerpoint Abbey

Kilkenny Castle

Kilmainham Gaol

Mellifont Abbey

Parke's Castle

Pearse's Cottage

Portumna Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

Reginald's Tower

Rock of Cashel

Roscrea Heritage

Ross Castle

Sligo Abbey

Swiss Cottage

Tintern Abbey

Trim Castle

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (253)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

253. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) regarding a school transport service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30506/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department. There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

In general children are eligible for school transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school. 

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

The number and size of buses operating for the 2019/20 school year will be determined by the number of children who complete the application process on time and who are deemed eligible for school transport.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. In this regard families should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the availability of transport on a concessionary basis for the next school year.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (254)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

254. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school (details supplied); the timeline for construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30526/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered by my Department's 2020 Design and Build programme under the National Development Plan.   

The first step in the process will be the application for planning permission which is expected to be lodged in quarter 3 of 2019. Thereafter, the timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission. My Department is working to deliver the school's permanent accommodation at the earliest possible date.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (255)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

255. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills 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. [30585/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Department implements multiple cybersecurity protocols and measures including User Awareness, Perimeter Security, Anti-virus/Anti-Malware, Email and Web filtering, System Patching, Risk Management, Policies, Regular Vulnerability Assessments/Pentration Testing, Mobile Device Management, Access Management, Incident Management, Event Monitoring, Information Security Governance, GDPR Awareness, Disaster Recovery, Offline backups, Supplier Management and Encryption.

The Department has not had a cybersecurity breach in the last 12 months.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (256)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

256. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) regarding a school transport service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30598/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department. There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

In general children are eligible for school transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school. 

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

The number and size of buses operating for the 2019/20 school year will be determined by the number of children who complete the application process on time and who are deemed eligible for school transport.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. In this regard families should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the availability of transport on a concessionary basis for the next school year.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.

Autism Support Services

Ceisteanna (257)

James Browne

Ceist:

257. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish an autism and-or ADHD unit in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30606/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

This Government is spending nearly one euro in every five of the education budget on special education – about €1.9 billion in 2019. This includes an allocation of over €300 million towards providing additional resources specifically to support students with Autism in schools.

The number of Special Education Teachers has increased by 37% from 9,740 in 2011 to over 13,400, Special Needs Assistants by 42% - from 10,575 in 2011 to 15,000, as well as 83 Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs). 

My Department's policy is that children with special educational needs should be included where possible and appropriate in mainstream placements, with additional supports provided.

In circumstances where children with special educational needs require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are provided for.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local SENOs, in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for identifying the need for and sanctioning the resourcing of special classes and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, there is a range of supports including capital funding available to the school.

There are now 1,459 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011, including 1,196 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD – 131 Early Intervention, 743 Primary and 322 Post-primary.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have advised that for the 2019/20 school year there will be a total of 1,618 special classes of which 1,353 will be for children diagnosed with autism.

124 special schools also provide specialist education for those students with complex special educational needs.

There are currently 2 special schools and 60 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Wexford.  The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish 167 new special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year of which approximately 156 will be new ASD special classes. This includes 7 new primary ASD classes and 1 post-primary ASD class in Co. Wexford.

Parents/guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local SENO who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child. Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie. 

The NCSE is currently undertaking Policy Advice on Education Provision in Special Classes and Special Schools to examine whether placement in specialist settings brings about improved educational outcomes and experiences, relative to their ability, for students with special educational needs. This Policy Advice is to be completed and a report submitted to the Minister no later than June 2020.

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular school, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for their attention and direct reply.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (258)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

258. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the short, medium and long-term accommodation plan for a new school (details supplied) in County Cork; the timeline for the future provision of accommodation including the permanent school building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30612/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A planning application for the school to which the Deputy refers was lodged with Cork County Council on 20 December 2018 and this was refused on 22 February 2019 primarily due to issues around traffic. That decision was upheld by An Bord Pleanála on 24 June 2019. 

My Department can confirm that the school will open in suitable interim accommodation in a building in Coláiste Stiofan Naofa, Tramore Road, Cork City.  The Patron body Educate Together have been advised of this and they in turn have advised the parents of pupils enrolled.  

A building project for the new primary school is included in my Department’s current 6 year construction programme.

Officials from my Department are working to identify and procure a suitable site for the school.  A number of potential site options have been identified and these are currently under consideration.

While a site acquisition process is underway, given the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

In the interim my Department will provide suitable interim accommodation arrangements for the school.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (259, 260, 261, 262)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

259. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the estimate of an organisation (details supplied) that the extension of the July provision to all children with Down's syndrome that need access would cost €1 million per annum is correct; his views on whether children with Down's syndrome need the additional support during the summer months in order that they can catch up with their peers and stay in mainstream education; if he will review the current policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30626/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

260. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of his engagement with an organisation (details supplied) further to the recent court settlement regarding the July provision for children with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30627/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

261. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to the provision of post-primary specialised units for students with Down's syndrome similar to that provided to children with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30628/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

262. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the recommendations of the NCSE review on the July provision will be implemented; if the implementation group has provided him with a report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 to 262, inclusive together.

My Department's July Provision Grant Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and students with Autism.

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays.

It is not possible to estimate the cost of extending the existing July Provision Scheme to other categories of children with Special Educational needs. Such an estimate would require analysis of the availability and willingness of schools to provide for this and also the availability of suitably qualified tutors to be available for home based July provision.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which advises the Minister on these matters published its Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism in July 2016 which included a review of the July Scheme.

The review found that in general parents value July provision because it provides day-time respite for families and a structured day for students. The NCSE review found a number of problems with the scheme as currently organised.

These include concerns that the scheme may be inequitable because it is not provided to all students with complex special educational needs.

The Council recommended that the relevant Government Departments consider how an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs.

The proposed scheme would provide a structured, safe, social environment for all students with complex special educational needs.

My Department has convened an Implementation Group to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

There has been consultation with a number of other Departments and State agencies regarding the future direction of the July Education Programme. 

It is expected that the Group will make recommendations shortly concerning a revised scheme which would be implemented next year at the earliest.  Before any changes are made, there will be consultations with stakeholders.

I met with a number of representatives from Down Syndrome Ireland on 3rd July 2019. There was a very fruitful discussion across a range of issues affecting children with Down Syndrome in the education system, including the review of the July Provision Scheme. The Department undertook to continue to engage with Down Syndrome Ireland on a range of education matters.

The policy of my Department is to ensure that all children with special educational needs, including children with Down syndrome, can be provided with an education appropriate to their needs.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (263)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

263. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills 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. [30769/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department issues Circulars detailing pre-determined salary scales which are negotiated at central level. 

 I am advised that all staff paid on payrolls operated by my Department are paid in excess of €12.30 per hour.

 There are also a significant cohort of staff paid directly by Agencies and/or Bodies coming under the aegis of my Department.  Information in relation to the individual hourly wages of all of these staff is not readily available and accordingly, it is not possible to estimate what cost, if any, would arise from implementing a living wage of €12.30 for all employees either directly employed and/or employed in Agencies and/or Bodies coming under my remit.  

I would also like to take this opportunity to outline the current position in respect of two specific categories of staff in the Education and Training sector

1. The position in relation to Secretaries and Caretakers employed and paid directly through grant funding by the managerial authorities of schools is that, on foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, officials from the Department of Education and Skills engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015.  The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period.  This arbitration agreement was implemented by my Department and covers the period up to 31 December 2019. 

2. The hourly rate of pay for Bus Escorts will vary from time to time in line with revised salary rates arising from the various Public Service Stability Agreements[1].  School management authorities are notified of any revised salary rates as they occur by way of circular issued by my Department.  The current hourly rate of pay is €12.85.”

Capitation Grants

Ceisteanna (264)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

264. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number and proportion of schools rewarded with extra capitation grants arising from compliance with circular 0032/2017. [30780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has published measures to be adopted by schools to reduce the cost of school uniforms and other costs,  in consultation with parents, in circular  32/2017. This includes principles of cost-effective practices to be adopted, including generic rather than branded items, use of sew-on or iron-on crests,  and all elements of a uniform being available from various stores.

While the circular provided, as resources permit, to reward schools that can provide evidence of having adopted the principles of cost-effective practice, my Department recognises the need to improve capitation funding for all schools. To this end, in 2019, my Department has provided for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year. Over the course of the school year 2019/20, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019.

It is important that schools consult with parents and the school community, and the  Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019 will require each school to implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines to be published by the Minister after consultation with the education partners, including the recognised national associations of parents.  One of the key concepts in the Bill is the need for schools to seek to reduce the costs to parents as far as is practicable.

Subject to Government approval, I intend to publish the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill in the Autumn.