Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (81)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

81. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way in which his Department is addressing expenditure overruns in relation to the national broadband plan and the national children’s hospital in 2019 and over the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39368/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy will recall, Further Revised Estimates were voted through the Dáil in February this year. The Further Revised Estimates were necessary as the Government recognised that the allocations set out in the Revised Estimates, published in December 2018, needed to be updated to reflect the materialising construction cost of the National Children’s Hospital. To that end, the Government decided that in relation to the 2019 allocations an additional €75 million capital expenditure allocation would be provided to the Department of Health to be met by reallocations from savings made in other sectors within the overall €7.3 billion capital allocation for 2019.

As set out in the Summer Economic Statement an expenditure reserve of up to €0.2 billion is to be established in 2020 to accommodate funding requirements liable to arise in connection with the National Broadband Plan and National Children’s Hospital. No decision has been made at this time regarding the specific allocation of this reserve as the funding of additional costs in relation to these projects will be considered as part of the Budget 2020 estimates process, reflecting the most up-to-date position relating to capital spending at the time. Beyond 2020, the Summer Economic Statement reflects the impact on the General Government Balance of additional expenditure in respect of the National Broadband Plan.

As I have previously indicated, I intend to provide the additional capital required to fund the National Broadband project from future revenues - this will be done in the context of updating the overall multi-annual capital ceilings set out in Project Ireland 2040. No other projects will be delayed or rescheduled, and no other changes will be made to the capital allocations for other projects as set out in the National Development Plan as a consequence of the Government’s decision to proceed with the National Broadband Plan.

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for individual projects rests with the relevant Departments. My Department, on the other hand, is responsible for monitoring expenditure allocations at Departmental level, so I can tell him that, up to the end of August, expenditure in 2019 is being managed for both the National Broadband Plan and the National Children’s Hospital in line with the allocations set out in the Further Revised Estimates.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (82)

James Browne

Ceist:

82. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the Enniscorthy flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38315/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Enniscorthy (river Slaney) flood defence scheme is being progressed by Wexford County Council on behalf of the Commissioners of Public Works as a scheme under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995. This is a very important scheme within the OPW’s €1 billion flood relief investment programme. It will protect 236 properties and bring much needed relief from the worry and stress which flooding has caused to householders and businesses in the town.

I am pleased to say that the scheme is at an advanced stage of planning and design. A formal Exhibition was held in May 2019 where the public were able to review the scheme design and measures and provide feedback on what is being proposed. The scheme proposals were generally well received and the lead consultants are currently reviewing the feedback received and finalising the design and all the documentation required for submission of the scheme for formal Confirmation of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. It is planned for the scheme to be submitted for Confirmation by end 2019. Following Confirmation it is expected to commence construction in 2020 after tendering, with an estimated construction period of 3 years.

The proposed scheme will be funded by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and I can confirm that provision for the cost of the scheme is included in the OPW's multi-annual capital framework.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (83)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

83. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the latest work of the Office of Public Works regarding its strategic review of the Phoenix Park; the cost to date; the estimated further cost in respect of the review; the expected timeline to publish a report on the consultation process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In 2018, the Office of Public Works commissioned a review of Visitor Experience in the Phoenix Park, with funding from Fáilte Ireland, in order to understand the current quality of experience for users of the Park and with a view to considering how visitor experience can be improved.

The Draft Review document sets out 29 distinct recommendations for the Park including the provision of new visitor reception facilities, more way marking, increased crossing points and a traffic calming plan. The Draft Review is not a framework for the development of the Park but it does explore the possibilities in relation to cafes, car parks and other visitor facilities with reference to international case studies in order to demonstrate the range of possibilities.

The draft review seeks to realise the Phoenix Park’s potential as one of the truly great parks of the world while also ensuring that the unique features that comprise the Phoenix Park will be conserved and protected for the enjoyment of generations to come.

The Office of Public Works placed the draft strategic review on public display on the 19th March, at the Phoenix Park Visitors Centre and invited the public and stakeholders to offer their observations on the various recommendations.

Members of the public were invited to submit their observations following a ten-week viewing period which closed on 31st May 2019.

The strategic review of the visitor experience at the Phoenix Park will cost €400,000. Failte Ireland is providing €300,000 to fund this project and OPW is contributing €100,000. To date, €318,951 has been expended on the project. It is expected that the remaining funds of €81,049 will be expended.

As stated, the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review was on display at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre from the 19th March 2019 and, due to public demand, the OPW facilitated two extensions on the closing date for submissions, first to April 26th and finally to 31st of May 2019. This resulted in a ten-week period in total for the public to consider the draft report and to submit observations for consideration.

One thousand, five hundred and forty six (1,546) observations were received via email to the Office of Public Works in respect of the Review. These were received from interested parties such as An Taisce, various local Residents Associations, ICOMOS, local elected representatives, Bird Watch Ireland, the Irish Wildlife Trust, to name some.

OPW together with its consultants, has carried out a detailed review and analysis of all submissions received. A report on the observations and submissions process is currently being finalised and it is envisaged that this will be completed by early to mid November.

National Monuments

Ceisteanna (84)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

84. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the restoration plans for properties under his ownership in Kells, County Meath; his further plans to carry out enhancement or conservation works at the monastic site; and if there are plans to enhance the tourism signage in Kells. [39620/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

There are two National Monuments in OPW care in Kells, Co Meath. These are:

- St. Colmcille's House

- Kells Round Tower

Both these sites undergo regular light maintenance and inspections. Currently, works are planned for the Round Tower with a view to addressing certain fabric issues and creating safe public access. Preliminary work has been undertaken at the site and plans for the next phases are being developed. It is not possible at this stage to say when the work will be undertaken.

St. Colmcille's House is currently in a good state of conservation repair and no work at this location is contemplated currently apart from ongoing maintenance.

The provision of tourist signage in Kells is not the responsibility of the OPW and there are therefore no plans currently to implement tourism signage in the town. However, should Meath County Council have any plans in this regard, OPW will be happy to cooperate with any urban realm initiative.

Fiscal Policy

Ceisteanna (85)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

85. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the overall trend in Government net policy spending since Quarter 1 2015 down to Quarter 3 2019; the way in which he expects this trend to evolve in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39367/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As outlined in the Mid-Year Expenditure Report, compared to the 2014 outturn, current expenditure on the delivery of public services and social supports in 2019 is set to have increased by 19% over this five year period. This level of increase in voted current expenditure is significantly below that seen in the period leading up to the fiscal and economic crisis. Over the period between the end of 2004 and 2009 gross voted current expenditure grew by 57%.

A targeted approach has seen additional funding directed towards priority areas. Gross voted current expenditure on Health, after adjusting for the disestablishment of the HSE Vote, has risen by over €4 billion or over 30%. Housing programme current expenditure has increased by almost €1 billion or over 200%.

Over the last five years, in order to enhance the resilience and growth capacity of the economy, significant additional resources have been made available for capital expenditure. Indeed, Exchequer capital investment, which represented under 7 per cent of total voted expenditure in 2014, accounts for a quarter of the overall expenditure increase in this five year period, with gross voted capital expenditure having increased by 90%. Total capital investment of €25 billion in this period has supported the delivery of economic and social infrastructure and the creation of jobs.

In recent Budgets, in order to increase the resources available for spending increases tax raising measures have been introduced. Indeed, as outlined in the Mid-Year Expenditure Report, over the period 2017 to 2019, as a result of tax raising measures and the non-utilisation of the full available fiscal space for tax measures an additional €1.9 billion was made available for expenditure increases over and above that originally planned in the 2016 Summer Economic Statement.

In light of the current position in relation to the UK's exit from the EU, Budget 2020 will be based on the assumption of a no-deal Brexit. Underlying this decision is the need to ensure the Government has the necessary resources at its disposal to meet the impact of the Brexit challenge, whilst preserving the longer-term sustainability of the public finances. This strategy involves a ‘twin-track’ approach of providing funding for key public services and also supporting the sectors and regions most exposed to Brexit related disruption.

Public Spending Code

Ceisteanna (86)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

86. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which public spending cuts previously applied are likely to be reversed in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39518/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Following a period of consolidation after the economic crisis, over the last number of years there has been modest growth in expenditure. Compared to the end 2014 outturn, gross voted expenditure in 2019 is profiled to be 25% higher as set out in section 2.2 of the Budget 2019 Expenditure Report. Indeed, in 2019, €66.6 billion has been allocated to gross voted expenditure. In absolute terms this is higher than the outturn of just over €63 billion in 2009. Recent increases in voted expenditure have been significantly more modest than what was seen in the pre-consolidation period, with gross voted expenditure growing by nearly 55% between 2004 and 2009.

This Government has delivered budgetary strategies based on steady increases in public expenditure underpinned by stable and predictable tax revenue. The Government has prioritised spending that mitigates risk, enhances the resilience of the economy and raises our growth capacity whilst making incremental and sustainable improvements in public services. The steady growth in expenditure in recent years reflects the significant effort made by this Government to moderate the level of expenditure increases and to secure a sustainable long-term path to growth.

In light of the current position in relation to the UK's exit from the EU, Budget 2020 will be based on the assumption of a no-deal Brexit. Underlying this decision is the need to ensure the Government has the necessary resources at its disposal to meet the impact of the Brexit challenge, whilst preserving the longer-term sustainability of the public finances. This strategy involves a ‘twin-track’ approach of providing funding for key public services and also supporting the sectors and regions most exposed to Brexit related disruption.

Building Energy Rating Administration

Ceisteanna (87)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

87. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number and cost of retrofitting projects the Commissioners of Public Works has undertaken in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, to upgrade public buildings to meet modern standards in terms of building regulations and energy efficiency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works has recognised the need for an energy conservation programme and as far back as 2008 made a particular effort in this regard. The main component of this was a behavioural change programme for staff in the buildings but also included improvements to heating and lighting systems. The behavioural change programme, called Optimising Power Work, has achieved savings in the order of 22% which translates to an annual saving of €6.4million. This programme was maintained through the years, even when OPW budgets were severely cut due to recession. In 2014 the OPW expanded this programme into the wider public sector. In now operates in acute care hospitals, third level colleges and universities, prisons, EPA and local authority buildings. The table below outlines the cost of the programme for each of the requested years.

Optimising Power Work

Total

2019 (to Sep.)

2018

2017

2016

Central Gov

€4.28M

€0.7M

€1.31M

€1.19M

€1.08M

Public Sector

€4.16M

€0.6M

€1.18M

€1.16M

€1.22M

Total

€8.44M

€1.3M

€2.49M

€2.35M

€2.30M

In more recent years, and as the Vote allocation improved the OPW has incrementally increased investment in this important area. The following are the number of projects undertaken in each of the years requested:

Year

No. of Projects

Cost

2016

16

€400,121

2017

16

€3,856,122

2018

100

€11,449,198

2019

16

€4,389,190

Total

148

€20,094,630

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 69.

Ceisteanna (88)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

88. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost of honouring the Labour Court finding on the community employment scheme supervisors pension costs; if the ongoing issue on financing the pension rights of these workers will be resolved in the upcoming budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

This issue relates to a claim by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.

The matter was the subject of extensive discussion at the Community Sector High Level Forum which was reconvened to examine certain issues pertaining to the Community Employment sector and in particular to ensure that the matter was fully examined having regard to both costs and precedent. The membership of this Forum includes public service management and union representatives. The implications arising from this claim extend beyond the CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors cadre and impact across the entire Community and Voluntary sector.

A detailed scoping exercise was carried out by my Department in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications of the issues under consideration.

The scoping exercise clearly illustrated that this matter presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost exposure for the State of between €188 million per annum and €347m depending on the size of the sector which is difficult to ascertain, were consequential demands to be made to fund employer pension contributions for all similar State funded Community and Voluntary organisations. This excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension for those imminently retiring, as sought, which could, depending on the size of the sector, give rise to a further Exchequer cost exposure of up to €318 million.

The Forum met in the period subsequent to the conduct of the scoping exercise where relevant matters in respect of this issue were discussed in comprehensive detail with the members of the Forum. These discussions provided a clear understanding to each of the parties of their respective positions in relation to this matter and in this context the formal engagement process between the parties was accordingly concluded on this basis.

It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and accordingly it is not for the State to provide funding for occupational pension scheme provision.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 69.

Arts Funding

Ceisteanna (90)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

90. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform that budget 2020 will make sufficient provision to ensure that the Taoiseach’s commitment to double funding for the arts by 2024 is met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39498/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

This Government is committed to supporting the culture sector and has provided significant capital support for the enhancement and protection of cultural spaces under Project Ireland 2040, the Government's long-term strategy for investment in Ireland’s public infrastructure. Under this programme, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was allocated almost €1.2 billion for capital expenditure over a ten-year period to 2027.

The Deputy will be aware that it is customary to make no comment on specific Budgetary allocations in advance of the Budget.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (91)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

91. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position with regard to supplementary estimates which may be necessary in several Departments for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38317/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

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.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Ceisteanna (92)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

92. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to increase the stipend given to keyholders of OPW sites nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39621/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The OPW provides keyholding and caretaker services at a number of National Monuments in the care of the State. These arrangements enable them to maintain control over vulnerable sites while at the same time ensuring that a level of supervised public access is maintained for visitors.

The stipend paid to keyholders and caretakers varies with the level of duties undertaken but it is fair to reflect that the amounts paid are not large and represent a token payment to these individuals who generally provide these services more out of respect and love for the Monument in their care rather than as a wage reflecting a full-time commitment. Notwithstanding this, the OPW has been conscious that the level of payment provided for these services is low and might be reviewed.

Understanding that the arrangements currently in place at sites around the country have been in force for many years and have been instituted at different times, the first step in the process, which has already been undertaken, has been to standardise payments across the portfolio and address local anomalies that have arisen in certain cases. The next stage in the process will be to perform a review of the size of the payments with a view to adopting a broad modest increase. I must stress that what is envisaged is not likely to result in a large increase in the stipend and certainly will not equate to a full-time wage for any individual involved who generally provide the services on an occasional / part-time basis. OPW intends to implement any changes to rates early in 2020 once the Estimates process has concluded and available resources for various commitments have been set out in its annual Business Plan.

Project Ireland 2040 Implementation

Ceisteanna (93)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

93. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if consideration has been given to updating the format of the capital tracker to mark projects as delayed; the date in which construction is planned to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39612/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Investment Projects and Programmes Tracker is currently being revised and updated. The Tracker provides a composite update on the progress of all major investments that make up Project Ireland 2040. It focuses mainly on projects with estimated costs greater than €20 million. The updated version of the tracker will be published in autumn 2019.

The updated tracker will contain information on the current status of projects and also columns detailing expected project construction commencement and completion dates. It will contain more granular information on delivery scheduling including milestones for key stages in the project lifecycle.

The updated version of the tracker will also include dashboards and other information to aid interpretation of the data. As such the tracker will be a key tool in overseeing the progress of Project Ireland 2040, will aid industry by communicating opportunities for investment, and will provide an important communications channel for all citizens in relation to Project Ireland 2040 investments taking place throughout the country.

A further innovation in 2019 was the development of MyProjectIreland, a new citizen-focussed interactive map which allows the user to navigate public investment projects across the country and to find out what is happening in their local area in an accessible way. The MyProjectIreland map includes information on expected completion dates and status of projects.

Public Sector Pay

Ceisteanna (94)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

94. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the public sector pay bill in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of full-time civil and public servants employed; and the whole-time equivalent employed for each of the above years. [39449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The gross pay bill for the public sector for each of the years 2016 to 2018 is as follows:

2016 - €15.6 billion

2017 - €16.5 billion

2018 - €17.7 billion

The gross pay bill to end – August 2019 is €12.4 billion with an estimated cost for the whole of 2019 of €18.7 billion.

The number of whole time equivalent civil and public servants employed for each of the years 2016 to 2018 is as follows.

Civil Servants

Q4 2016 – 37,147

Q4 2017 – 38,553

Q4 2018 – 39,992

Public Servants

Q4 2016 – 309,751

Q4 2017 – 320,758

Q4 2018 – 330,576

A year-by-year breakdown of both the public sector pay bill and the number of civil and public servants is available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Databank, accessible on http://databank.per.gov.ie/.

Public Spending Code

Ceisteanna (95)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

95. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the revised public spending code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published; his plans to strengthen the existing guidelines and improve appraisal, cost estimation and management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s public investment management systems, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is updating the Public Spending Code. The purpose of this update is to strengthen the existing guidance to better align with the realities of project delivery and with a particular focus on improved appraisal, cost estimation and management. The Office of Government Procurement is conducting a review of construction procurement which will align with the updated Public Spending Code.

The updated Public Spending Code includes the following reforms:

- Strengthened and harmonised capital appraisal guidance;

- Greater clarity on governance and roles and responsibilities;

- New mechanisms to improve the accuracy of cost estimates;

- Improved project life cycle to better reflect the realities of project delivery; and

- Increased transparency through publication of business cases and evaluation reports.

The revised central elements of the Public Spending Code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published this Autumn. Further technical guidance building upon these central elements will follow later in 2019 and in 2020.

Land Development Agency

Ceisteanna (96)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

96. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the acreage of State land managed by the OPW transferred to the Land Development Agency for the development of residential units; the number of units that have been delivered; the number of acres that will be transferred to the agency in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39611/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works are the title holders of the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum, which is expected to transfer to the Land Development Agency for residential development. The site covers around 11.35 hectares and is currently leased to the HSE for use by the Central Mental Hospital.

In August 2019, the OPW facilitated the Land Development Agency in giving formal consent to the Agency to prepare its planning application for the site to be developed for housing purposes.

However, the transfer of the site is subject to the legislation underpinning the powers and functions of the Land Development Agency being put in place by my colleague, the Minister for Housing and Local Government. In addition, the Land Development Agency is aware that any development on the site will depend on the relocation of the Central Mental Hospital to a new site in Portrane. I understand that the HSE is working towards a target date of 2020 for the National Forensic Mental Health Service which will replace the Central Mental Hospital to become operational at Portrane. The site at Dundrum will have to be vacated by the HSE and the Hospital before the Land Development Agency can begin substantial works.

Construction Contracts

Ceisteanna (97)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

97. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the level of construction inflation that has been experienced by his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 in respect of construction projects and other capital projects; the way in which he monitors construction inflation and the mechanisms he employs to establish this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39450/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Due to the nature of its role, my Department had no State Infrastructure projects funded through its own Vote from 2016 to-date, so the issue of construction inflation on its projects does not arise. The main purpose of capital projects and associated investment undertaken by my Department is to support greater effectiveness and efficiency across the Civil and Public Service through investing in ICT.

In the wider Government context, my role, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, is to oversee the effective implementation of the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and to maintain the national frameworks such as the Public Spending Code within which Departments operate to ensure appropriate accounting for, and value for money in, public expenditure.

To support the efficient implementation of the National Development Plan and Departments as they work to secure value for money at project level, a suite of key reforms have been introduced including:

- Establishment of a Construction Sector Group to ensure regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector;

- A Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board of Secretaries General meets regularly to ensure effective leadership of the implementation process;

- The establishment of an Investment Projects and Programmes Office (IPPO) in my Department to co-ordinate reporting on the plan and to drive reforms included strengthened business case and project appraisal. As part of its function in driving reforms to strengthen business cases, the IPPO provides a technical quality review of business cases for major projects. Since its establishment, the IPPO has reviewed many project appraisals across a range of sectors including roads, rail, communications, energy, tourism and housing;

- The publication of a Capital Projects tracker to inform citizens about projects in their area and to give a greater overview to the construction sector.

As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s public investment management systems, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is updating the Public Spending Code. The purpose of this update is to strengthen the existing guidance to better align with the realities of project delivery and with a particular focus on improved appraisal, cost estimation and management. The Office of Government Procurement is conducting a review of construction procurement which will align with the updated Public Spending Code.

The updated Public Spending Code will include the following reforms:

- Strengthened and harmonised capital appraisal guidance;

- Greater clarity on governance and roles and responsibilities;

- New mechanisms to improve the accuracy of cost estimates;

- Improved project life cycle to better reflect the realities of project delivery; and

- Increased transparency through publication of business cases and evaluation reports.

The revised central elements of the Public Spending Code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published this Autumn. Further technical guidance building upon these central elements will follow later in 2019 and in 2020. In addition, my Department is developing a new governance and assurance process for major projects with an estimated cost of over €100 million.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (98)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

98. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Rebuilding Ireland home loan will be extended in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39353/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan launched on 1 February 2018. Prior to its launch, an initial tranche of €200 million of long-term fixed rate finance was borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency to provide funds for the scheme to local authorities. Due to a higher than anticipated demand for the scheme, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government requested sanction for additional funding in June of this year and subsequently funding for the scheme has been increased from €200 million to €563 million for 2018 and 2019 combined. In line with the sanction issued by my Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is expected to undertake a performance review of the scheme post year-end.

As the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is funded through long-term fixed-rate finance from the Housing Finance Agency, any possible extension of funding would not necessarily arise in the context of the Budget which primarily deals with voted current expenditure. The extension of the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a housing policy issue and a matter for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in the first instance, hence any questions on such should be directed to my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Public Sector Pay

Ceisteanna (99)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

99. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of addressing pay equalisation in the public sector. [39354/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to PQ36684 of 06 September 2019.

Under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) 2018 – 2020, it was agreed to examine the remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 entry grades. A report, laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in March 2018, estimates the point in time cost of pay equalisation of new entrants to the public service and is available at the following link:

.Report to Oireachtas - New entrant salary scale issues].

The report estimated a cost of €199.8m for pay equalisation for 60,513 new entrants, an average cost of €3,300 per FTE.

Following this report, an agreement on new entrant salary scales was reached in September 2018.

The main components of the agreement are:

- where two additional scale points were applied to pay scales under the Haddington Road Agreement, it was agreed that there will be two separate interventions in the pay scales as they apply to new entrant public servants recruited since January 2011.

- the two separate interventions will take place at point 4 and point 8 of the pay scales. The practical effect of this is that for new entrants the relevant points on the scale will be bypassed, thereby reducing the time spent on the scale for progression to the maximum point.

- this measure will apply from 1 March 2019 and will be applied to each new entrant as they reach the relevant scale points (point 4 and point 8) on their current increment date.

The cost of this measure during the remaining term of the PSSA is €75 million, with the full cost of the measure based on current data and public service numbers (2017) accruing over the period out to 2026. It is estimated that some 58% (35,750) of new entrants will benefit from this measure in year 1, rising to 78% (47,750) by year 2.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (100)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

100. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the lower Lee flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39594/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that the detailed design of the Lower Lee (Cork city) flood relief scheme is being finalised and the relevant documentation, including the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, is being prepared in preparation for submission of the scheme to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for Ministerial Confirmation under the provisions of the Arterial Drainage Acts.

The proposed Scheme is the result of over thirteen years of careful consideration and study of the Lee Catchment and the nature of flooding affecting Cork. Benchmarked against best international practice, the proposed Scheme’s multifaceted approach takes account of the complexity of flooding in Cork which is both tidal and fluvial (river).

Flooding in 2009 and 2014 resulted in a reported €140 million of damage in Cork and caused severe stress to the residents and business owners in the city.

The proposed scheme will provide protection to over 900 homes and 1200 business properties in the City. It will also facilitate significant public realm improvements in the city centre area, making it more attractive to live and work in and to visit. These improvements which include walkways and cycle ways will encourage a switch from cars to other more environmentally friendly transport modalities and should act as a catalyst for investment and development in the city.

The Office of Public Works has recently published further details and images of the proposals and it is hoped that these will assuage some misunderstanding about the Scheme and also challenge significant misrepresentation of it as well. The various public consultation phases of the project have been very helpful in informing the design of the Scheme. While the Scheme cannot deviate from the comprehensive scientific and empirical analysis on which it is based, it has taken into account many of the suggestions made during the public consultation stages. As further details and images are completed they will be put into the public domain, which will allow the public to see the overall picture of the scheme.

Brexit Expenditure

Ceisteanna (101)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

101. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the anticipated cost of borrowing funds for the Exchequer in order to fulfil expenditure requirements under a no-deal Brexit scenario; the effect this will have on the national debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39613/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Dedicated measures to get Ireland Brexit ready were announced in Budgets 2017, 2018 and 2019 to help ensure Ireland is in the best possible position to respond to the challenges that Brexit will bring. This work will continue in Budget 2020.

Given heightened uncertainty around Brexit, two budgetary scenarios were set out in the Summer Economic Statement. The first involved an orderly exit by the UK, while the second involved a disorderly Brexit. The Government has now decided that Budget 2020 will be based on the assumption of a no-deal Brexit.

In particular, it is envisaged that there will be a number of temporary, targeted supports for sectors of the economy hardest hit, while capital supports will be required, primarily in relation to infrastructure required at Dublin Port, Rosslare Europort and Dublin Airport.

Any extra borrowing that might arise would cause an increase in national debt. The NTMA is continuing with its strategy of pre-funding to meet future redemptions. It adopts a prudent approach to the Exchequer’s funding requirement which gives it confidence that it can meet the Exchequer’s funding needs, irrespective of the risks – such as a no-deal Brexit – that might emerge.

Budget 2020

Ceisteanna (102)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

102. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the demographic analysis will be ready for budget day; if it will involve an ex-post review of demographic costs in previous years; if the scope of the analysis will be expanded particularly in relation to health expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39610/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Ministerial Gross Voted Current Expenditure Ceilings for the Departments of Health, Social Protection and Education include an estimation of demographic costs each year. These are primary areas of current expenditure that are particularly impacted by demographic pressures. For the last number of years, these demographic projections have been informed by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) paper ‘Budgetary Impacts of Changing Demographics 2017 – 2027.’ The paper can be found on the IGEES website (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 and estimates pure demographic costs to be factored into Expenditure Ceilings. As part of the 2019 Spending Review process, an update of this paper is due to be published in October in the overall context of Budget 2020. 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.