Managing expenditure within allocations is a key responsibility of every Department and Minister. A number of measures are in place to ensure that our expenditure and budgetary targets are being achieved on an ongoing basis. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters. There is regular reporting to Government on expenditure levels and expenditure profiles are published for each month. The drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is monitored throughout the year and reported on against profile on a monthly basis in the Fiscal Monitor.
As set out in the most recent Fiscal Monitor, total gross voted expenditure at end-August 2019 was €42,015 million. This is €262 million, or 0.6% below profile. Gross voted current expenditure of €38,653 million, is €132 million, or 0.3% below profile. Of the 17 Ministerial Vote groups, 14 are on or below profile on current expenditure for end-August. Gross voted capital expenditure of €3,362 million, is €130 million, or 3.7% below profile and up €683 million, or 25.5% on the same period last year. The end-September Fiscal monitor will be published later this week.
Due to the scale of Government expenditure, over €66 billion in aggregate for 2019, and the cash basis of Government accounting, the need for Supplementary Estimates can arise for a number of reasons. This includes in-year policy decisions, timing issues and overspends in particular areas.
Expenditure Report 2020, which will be published on Budget Day, will set out an initial assessment of any necessary additional expenditure for 2019. In relation to policy decisions this would include the decision in relation to this year’s Social Welfare Christmas Bonus. Looking at areas where expenditure pressures may arise, while the end-August position is encouraging, there is a particular challenge in the Health sector, where the year-on-year increase to the end of August illustrates the challenge and the need for staffing and savings measures to be proactively managed by the Department of Health. There are also potential pressures in the areas of Justice arising from pressures in relation to Asylum Seekers Accommodation.
In addition, the continued uncertainty in relation to the timing of the UK’s exit from the European Union has required that the impacted Departments and Offices incur expenditure to ensure that we are in a position to respond to the emerging position. To the extent that offsetting underspends are not available this would necessitate certain Supplementary Estimates.
The White Paper to be published this Friday will set out the aggregate forecast expenditure outturn for the year taking into account an assessment of potential Supplementary Estimate requirements.