Public Sector Reform Implementation

Ceisteanna (59, 61, 64)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

59. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which he expects Departments to reform in the current year thereby making a positive contribution to the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

61. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which reforms within various Departments have contributed to savings and economic improvement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46974/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

64. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he is satisfied that adequate steps are being taken to promote reform within each Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46977/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59, 61 and 64 together.

The programme of reform in the Civil Service supporting the development of high performing organisations continues to be embedded.  A fourth progress report which captures the progress made since the plan was commenced was published in May 2019 and is available on my Department's website at www.gov.ie/en/collection/8a4a55-civil-service-renewal-plan-progress-reports/#fourth-progress-report. 

The Civil Service Renewal Plan for Government Departments includes 25 headline actions. Significant progress has been made in delivering this ambitious programme of reform. Achievements include:

- The establishment of the Civil Service Management Board which has collective responsibility for the delivering the actions in the Civil Service Renewal Plan.

- The development of a Common Governance Standard for the Civil Service.

- Further implementation of the Shared Services Programme; the Public Service ICT Strategy and Government Communications Programme.

- The Civil Service People Strategy was launched in October 2017, setting the strategic direction for Human Resource Management across the Civil Service while also recognising that each organisation is unique and has its own challenges.

- Open recruitment competitions have been held for a wide range of general service, professional and technical grades.

- A wide range of initiatives to improve gender balance across the Civil Service have been developed and are being implemented within Departments and Offices. These include an action plan to improve gender balance at senior levels.

- OneLearning has been established to centrally operate and maintain the new Learning & Development (L&D) model and to manage the delivery the new common suite of L&D programmes.

- Introduction of structured and transparent talent management programmes to develop future leaders.

- A more effective and simplified performance management system (PMDS) has been delivered, including training for line managers to support and improve the management of performance.

- A new scheme for recognising innovation and excellence across the Civil Service was introduced through the Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Awards. The awards celebrate the significant contributions that civil servants make to the Civil Service and recognise innovations in policy and service delivery across the Civil Service.

- An approach to professionalisation has been agreed in the areas of HR, ICT and Finance, with most progress made in the HR and ICT areas.

- A new Civil Service-wide mobility scheme has been introduced for Clerical Officers and Executive Officers which will be extended to other grades up to Assistant Principal level in due course.

- A standardised project management approach has been introduced and supported with the establishment of a Project Managers’ Network and training from OneLearning.

- A new system of Organisational Capability Reviews to assess and strengthen performance and capacity across Departments is being implemented

- Guidelines and a handbook in relation to the transfer of functions has been published to assist in implementing Government Decisions to establish new Departments or restructuring of existing Departments.

- Significant progress in relation to the development of a National Data Infrastructure.

- Organisation of two Civil Service Employee Engagement Surveys to date which asks civil servants for their views on working in the Civil Service, focusing on areas such as employee engagement, well-being, coping with change and commitment to the organisation. Departments/Offices are tasked with responding to the challenging areas arising from the findings.

As I announced in Budget 2020, demographic changes and the next wave of technological change will place new demands on our key offices and Departments.  The Civil Service of the future will be different in terms of its skills mix, use of technology and geographical footprint.  We are therefore developing a longer term vision and strategy for the Civil Service which will be announced in due course.

Implementation of the wider public service reform programme, Our Public Service 2020, the framework for development and innovation for the public service to 2020 and beyond, is continuing. The First Progress Report on the framework was published in October 2019 and is available on my Department's website at www.ops2020.gov.ie/app/uploads/2019/10/OPS2020-First-Progress-Report_Web.pdf.

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 59.

Ceisteanna (60)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

60. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the monetary value of the reforms incorporated in policy in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46973/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The significant public service reforms that this Government has undertaken in recent years continue to deliver improved services and value for money across a range of specific areas such as governance, accountability, procurement, shared services, organisational reform and property management.

In my own Department, two notable examples are the establishment of a centralised Office of Government Procurement and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, established to lead the implementation of the Public Service ICT Strategy in cooperation with departments and agencies across the public service. 

As Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, I must also seek to ensure that our fiscal and public expenditure policy is sustainable and that Public Sector policy continues to facilitate good economic performance in the future. In this context, there are a number of budgetary reforms introduced in recent years to guide my decisions on overall fiscal policy in this regard, including fiscal rules, expenditure ceilings and spending reviews.

Transformation across the diverse sectors that make up our public service in Ireland is however a continuous process. Although not exhaustive, an indication of the range of activities undertaken can be seen in the update (July 2017) on the 227 actions contained in the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016.

The policy document Our Public Service 2020 represents the current phase of public service reform. Our Public Service 2020 is a whole-of-public-service initiative designed to build on previous reforms, while expanding the scope of reform to focus on collaboration, innovation and evaluation. Our Public Service 2020 seeks better outcomes for the public, to support innovation and collaboration and to build public service organisations that are resilient and agile.

The first progress report on Our Public Service 2020 was published on 3 October 2019. The report, along with information and up-dates on the full range of Our Public Service 2020 activities can be accessed at the website OPS2020.gov.ie.

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 59.

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Ceisteanna (62, 66)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

62. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which his Department continues to rely on reform throughout the public sector as a means of bridging budgetary gaps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46975/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

66. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which each item of public expenditure remains on target throughout the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46979/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 66 together.

Taking account of the increases provided for core expenditure, relative to the allocations in the Revised Estimate Volume 2019, spending on day to day public services will increase by 4.3 per cent next year, with capital investment growing by 10.8 per cent. Total gross expenditure will increase by 5 per cent to just over €70 billion. After taking account of potential expenditure arising from the no-deal Brexit, expenditure in 2020 would rise to over €71 billion.

 In 2020, core voted Government expenditure on the delivery of public services, excluding costs relating to the need to respond to a disorderly Brexit will be €61.9 billion. Maintaining the approach of recent years, additional resources will be focused on incrementally improving the scope and availability of public services which will impact on all sectors and regions of the economy. Details of the services to be delivered by all Departments are set out in Part II of the Budget 2020 Expenditure Report.

In relation to Capital expenditure, Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term overarching strategy to make Ireland a better country for all of its people. The plan changes how infrastructure investment is made. Project Ireland 2040 supports business and communities across all of Ireland in realising their potential.

Capital expenditure funding for 2020 represents a significant increase of almost €800 million or 10.8% over the 2019 allocations.  This investment will be delivered in line with the National Planning Framework as part of Project Ireland 2040. Targeted and sustainable investment will enable ambitious growth in our regional cities which can complement the continuing importance of Dublin to the national economy.

In order to safeguard this significant investment, a range of reforms have been put in place over the last number of years with the aim of focusing attention on achieving value for money. For example, the Performance Budgeting initiative seeks to shift focus away from simply looking at the quantum of spend towards examining what is being delivered through public expenditure. As part of this initiative, the third Public Service Performance Report was published earlier this year and provided outturn performance information for 2018 as well as trend data for the previous two years. My Department also finalised year three of the Spending Review process in 2019. The Spending Review aims to place evidence at the centre of policy development, through the examination of existing policies and programmes to assess their efficiency and effectiveness. This systematic examination of existing expenditure can support the re-allocation of funding to meet expenditure priorities. 

Managing the delivery of public services within allocations is a key responsibility of each Minister and Department. There are important measures are in place to ensure that our budgetary targets are being met. My Department is in regular contact with all other Departments and offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters and there is regular reporting to Government on expenditure levels. Expenditure profiles are published for each month and the drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is monitored throughout the year and reported on against profile on a monthly basis in the Exchequer Statement.

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 59.

Ceisteanna (63)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

63. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he expects reform within the public sector to be delivered in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46976/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As I have previously informed the Deputy, the significant reforms within the public sector that this Government has put in place since 2011 continue to deliver improved services and value for money across a range of specific areas such as governance, accountability, procurement, shared services, organisational reform and property management.

The current framework for public service reform and innovation, Our Public Service 2020 (OPS 2020) which I launched at end-2017, builds on previous reforms while expanding their scope to focus on collaboration, innovation and evaluation.

Some examples of current reform initiatives under Our Public Service 2020 that are being delivered in the current year include:

- The establishment of Procurement Framework for Robotic Process Automation;

- An Garda Siochana’s Active Mobility Service;

- The Library Service’s My Open Library initiative;

- Revenue Commissioners PAYE Modernisation;

- Establishment of a pilot fund to support Public Service innovation (launched in May 2019); and

- Innovation Week, to be held on 9-13 December 2019.

Further details of the reforms that we continue to deliver under OPS 2020, including during the current year, can be found in the first progress report on Our Public Service 2020, which I published last month in conjunction with my colleague Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan. Information and up-dates on the full range of OPS 2020 activities can also be accessed at the website OPS2020.gov.ie.

Apart from OPS 2020, reform is underway in organisations right across the civil and public services.  The overall programme of reform that we set out in the 2014 Civil Service Renewal Plan in order to support a higher performing organisation continues to be embedded within our Civil Service.  A fourth progress report which captures the progress made since the Civil Service Renewal Plan commenced was published in May and this is also available on my Department's website at www.gov.ie/en/collection/8a4a55-civil-service-renewal-plan-progress-reports/#fourth-progress-report.

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 59.

Public Sector Pay

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 62.

Ceisteanna (65)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

65. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he has addressed the issue of FEMPI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46978/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I refer the Deputy to PQ 39967 of 30 September 2019. The position remains the same.

PQRef: 39967/19 

The process of unwinding the Financial Emergency (FEMPI) legislation commenced under the Lansdowne Road Agreement 2016 – 2018 and will be completed under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020 (PSSA).

The PSSA, which was negotiated in 2017, and the provisions of which were statutorily provided for under the terms of the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, allows for a continued, controlled unwinding of the FEMPI legislation. The unwinding process is progressively weighted towards those at the lower levels of pay (who will see their salaries increase relative to 2008), and is implemented on a phased basis.

By end 2019, salary rates up to €50,000 will be fully restored. By end 2020, salary rates up to €70,000 (over 90% of the public service) will be fully restored.

For public servants who have not achieved full restoration of the FEMPI reductions by October 2020 (i.e the date of the last PSSA increase), restoration of the amount must be completed by way of Ministerial order. This order must be made on the following dates:

For those with a post – PSSA salary of under €150,000:

- Covered public servants: a date after 1 October 2020 but before 1 July 2021. 

For those with a post – PSSA salary in excess of €150,000:

- Covered public servants: a date after 1 October 2020 but before 1 July 2022.  

Under the terms of the FEMPI Act 2013, I am obliged to carry out an annual review of the operation, effectiveness and impact of the FEMPI Acts, having regard to the overall economic conditions in the State and national competitiveness. In this annual review, I am also to consider whether or not any of the provision of the relevant Acts continue to be necessary having regard to the purposes of those Acts, the revenues of the State and State commitments in respect of public service pay and pensions.

In my 2019 annual review, a written report of which was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on the 26th June, I recommended the continuation of the unwinding of the FEMPI measures in line with the terms agreed under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020 and provisions enacted in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 62.

Equality Proofing of Budgets

Ceisteanna (67)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

67. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which he continues to monitor the performance in both the public and private sectors with a view to ensuring a reasonable degree of equality throughout the economy in terms of opportunities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46980/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Ensuring equality of opportunity is a key aim for most societies.  Gainful employment is arguably a key metric in this regard and this Government has created thousands of new jobs, with a record 2.3 million people now at work in our economy.  Our income tax system is considered progressive by international standards; our tax revenue funds a wide range of services, with an emphasis on providing support to the groups in our society who need it the most and consequently our rates of poverty are falling.

Built on the performance budgeting framework that has been gradually embedded into the budget cycle , Equality Budgeting in Ireland follows the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment to ‘develop the process of budget and policy proofing as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights’. The National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 also contains a related commitment. 

The elements that make equality budgeting work such as impact analysis and evaluation are important in any good budgetary process. Equality budgeting should not to be seen as something separate from the budget process; the intention is to embed equality perspectives across the whole-of-year budgetary process. A pilot programme of equality budgeting was introduced for the 2018 budgetary cycle, anchored in the existing performance budgeting framework. International experience has shown the importance of setting specific and measurable targets. This approach works well in terms of transparency around objectives and measuring progress. For the first cycle of equality budgeting, a number of diverse policy areas were selected with associated objectives and indicators published in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2018. Progress towards achieving those targets was reported on in the Public Service Performance Report 2017. 

Responsibility for proofing expenditure programmes, the selection of indicators, and making progress towards achieving the high level goals articulated is a matter for the individual spending Departments in the first instance. The role of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is to facilitate the initiative and provide support for Departments to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment. The Government’s performance and equality budgeting programmes are solely concerned with public sector activities; they have no remit in the private sector.

Following the achievements of the pilot programme, Equality Budgeting was expanded in 2019 to further develop the gender budgeting elements and to broaden its scope to other dimensions of equality including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability. In addition to the six equality objectives identified in the pilot (Phase 1), a further eight objectives were added for 2019 (Phase 2). This means nine Government Departments are now actively engaged with Equality Budgeting. An update in the Public Service Performance Report 2018 outlined progress in the pilot.

To further guide the roll-out of equality budgeting, an Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group was established, holding its first meeting in September 2018. This group is comprised of a broad range of relevant stakeholders and policy experts to provide advice on the most effective way to advance equality budgeting policy and progress the initiative.

My Department, in liaison with the Department of Justice and Equality, commissioned the OECD to undertake a Policy Scan of Equality Budgeting in Ireland. This was published on October 8th, in tandem with Budget 2020. The report reviews Ireland’s equality budgeting programme and provides recommendations on its further development, in light of international experience. This ongoing process is further guided by the work of the Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group.  Once these recommendations have been fully considered by my Department, in conjunction with the Expert Group, I will outline future plans for Equality Budgeting.

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (68)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

68. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the recruitment throughout the public sector in the context of economic recovery to date; the expectation in respect of future recruitments throughout the sector in 2020 and thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46981/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy will be aware from previous replies, in my role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have overarching responsibility for workforce planning in, and recruitment to, the Civil Service.

In Budget 2015, it was announced that there would be a targeted programme of recruitment into the Civil Service to address service needs and a shortfall in key skills. The Deputy will be aware that a number of open competitions have already taken place or are in the process of taking place for recruitment to the Civil Service.

I understand from the Public Appointments Service, who are the independent recruiter for the Civil Service, that since the lifting of the moratorium, approximately 14,600 civil servants from open competitions excluding temporary assignments and professional and technical posts, have been assigned to Government departments and offices across general service grades. This figure would, of course be offset by retirements and other people leaving the Civil Service.

An open CO competition was advertised recently and an EO competition for posts outside Dublin was also advertised this year. An open PO competition is currently underway. 

Apart from competitions already advertised, it is too early to say at this stage what competitions will be held for all of 2020. Factors such as the demand from Departments/offices from existing panels, consequential vacancies arising, retirements and defined skill demands will influence decisions to hold competitions and these are currently being assessed.

EU Funding

Ceisteanna (69)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

69. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of project applications entered by the State under the European Structural and Investment Funds from 2014 to 2021, in tabular form; the number of successful agreements to date; the estimated amount of expected drawdown of funds; and the number of projects that support business growth and employability, skills development, investment and access to finance, develop green infrastructure and support social enterprise. [47064/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, I have overall responsibility for EU Cohesion Policy and primary responsibility for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Minister for Education & Skills has primary responsibility for the European Social Fund (ESF). These two Funds, along with the Cohesion Fund (from which Ireland no longer benefits), the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) (for which the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine has responsibility) now constitute the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).    

Ireland has been allocated a total of €3.5bn in ESI Funding for the 2014 -2020 period (€1.2bn of Structural Funds for the ERDF and the ESF, €2.2bn from the EAFRD and €148m for the EMFF). The policy context for the application of these allocations is set out in Ireland's Partnership Agreement (www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Partnership-Agreement-Ireland-2014-2020.pdf) which is the overarching strategic document governing the ESI Funds.

With regard to the expected drawdown, it is expected that the allocated funds will be drawn down in full before programme closure. 

The EU Regulations governing the ESI Funds outline eleven categories, known as Thematic Objectives, under which ESI funding may be spent by Member States. The funding priorities identified for Ireland's ESI Funds for the 2014-2020 period are:

- promoting jobs and growth;

- combating unemployment and social exclusion;

- promoting R&D and ICT investment and the competitiveness of the business sector; and

- promoting an environmentally friendly and resource efficient economy.

These investment priorities are being progressed by several Government Departments and a large number of Agencies under their aegis.   Further details in relation to the projects funded can be obtained on the websites of the Managing Authorities for the various Funds, links to which can be found on the ESIF website at https://eufunds.gov.ie/.

EU Funding

Ceisteanna (70)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

70. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the funds allocated to Ireland over the 2014 to 2020 period and expended in each year to date; the breakdown between Exchequer funding and EU funding (details supplied), in tabular form. [47067/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has overall policy responsibility for the European Structural and Investment Funds, and has primary administrative responsibility for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Department of Education and Skills has primary responsibility for the European Social Fund. The Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine has primary responsibility for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The Connecting Europe Facility is managed by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. In relation to the Research and Innovation Framework Programme, this is a matter for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The queries in relation to these funds have been transferred to the relevant Departments for direct reply to the Deputy.

In relation to ERDF Ireland has been allocated €410,775,098 support for the programming period 2014-2020. Details of the indicative annual allocation are set out in the following table.

Allocation of  ERDF by year (total Union support)

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total

ERDF

€55,040,482

€56,142,428

€57,266,276

€58,792,949

€59,969,564

€61,169,686

€62,393,713

€410,775,098

It should be noted that this amount is matched with 50% Exchequer funding, therefore the total allocation for ERDF programmes is €821,550,196.

In relation to expenditure, each Member State is required to submit to the Commission an annual report on implementation of the programme in the previous financial year. The most recent report available is 2018.  The total spend to end 2018, including matching Exchequer funding, was €394,465,584.

EU Funding

Ceisteanna (71)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

71. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if Ireland will be eligible for EU cohesion funding in the MFF 2021-2027. [47073/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The post 2020 Cohesion Policy Legislative package, which includes the combined European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund Regulation, and the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), which sets the overall EU Budget for the next programming period, are still under negotiation and remain to be finalised. However, I can confirm that the Commission published their cohesion policy legislative package in May 2018 with an initial indicative allocation of Structural and Cohesion fund support for Ireland of approx.  €1.088 bn for the period 2021-2027. It is important to bear in mind that this figure has not been finalised, and there is no breakdown on the final allocation of funding between the ERDF, European Social Fund+ (ESF+), and European Territorial Cooperation (ETC)/INTERREG programme. As in the present round of funding, Ireland is not eligible for Cohesion Funding in the next round as Gross National Income (GNI per inhabitant) in Ireland is more than 90% of the EU average. 

EU Funding

Ceisteanna (72, 87, 88)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

72. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funds allocated to Ireland over the 2014 to 2020 period and expended in each year to date; the breakdown between Exchequer funding and EU funding (details supplied), in tabular form. [47067/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

87. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount allocated to Ireland under the European Social Fund under the MFF programme 2014 to 2020 and in the proposed 2021 to 2027 MFF programme, in tabular form. [47066/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

88. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount allocated to Ireland under the European Social Fund education and training, Erasmus PRO and the youth employment initiative budget for the 2014 to 2020 period (details supplied), in tabular form. [47068/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Following the allocation of an additional €2m funding as part of the mid-term Review of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the ESF co-financed Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) for the period 2014-2020 contains a total budget of €1.157 billion.  This budget comprises ESF and Exchequer contributions of €544.516m each and an EU Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) budget contribution of €68.145m. The specific YEI funding allocation for Ireland of €68m is matched by equal amounts from our ESF allocation and from the Exchequer, giving an overall allocation of €204m. The annual programme allocations for the years 2014-2020, are set out in the following table:

Year

ESF Allocation €

YEI Allocation €

Exchequer Allocation €

Total €

2014

72,960,638

38,283,943

72,960,638

184,205,219

2015

74,421,358

29,861,476

74,421,358

178,704,193

2016

75,911,109

0

75,911,109

151,822,218

2017

77,934,839

0

77,934,839

155,869,678

2018

79,494,537

0

79,494,537

158,989,074

2019

81,085,397

0

81,085,397

162,170,794

2020

82,707,948

0

82,707,948

165,415,896

Total

544,515,826

68,145,419

544,515,826

1,157,177,071

The ESF PEIL funds a range of over 20 specific activities which are implemented across a range of bodies, under 4 main priorities (in addition to technical assistance) as follows:

Priority 1: Promoting the attainment of sustainable and quality employment through relevant upskilling measures and supporting labour mobility.

Priority 2: Promoting Social Inclusion and combating discrimination in the labour market

Priority 3: Investing in Education, Training and Life Long Learning with a view to upskilling and re-skilling the labour force

Priority 4: Youth Employment Initiative.

While Priority 1 and 4 contain employment and training activities, such as Traineeships under the ETB Training for the Unemployed activity and the Springboard activity in Priority 1 and Jobsplus and the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance under Priority 4, the PEIL does not provide any funding for apprenticeships.  The ESF Managing Authority and the Operational Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) maintain an ongoing overview of the funding allocations under the PEIL and re-allocate the available funding as required, in accordance with the EU Regulatory provisions, over the lifetime of the PEIL.

All PEIL approved activities are fully funded up-front by the Exchequer, with the EU (ESF/YEI) funding being claimed in arrears.  The EU Regulations provide that the Commission will decommit any part of the amount in an OP that hasn’t been used for payment of initial and annual pre-financing and interim payments by 31st December of the 3rd year following the year of budget commitment under the OP or for which a payment application has not been submitted. As Ireland’s OP was approved in 2015, the budget commitments for 2014 fell to 2015 and had to be claimed by end 2018.  Following the designation of the Irish authorities in 2018, payment applications in respect of €221m were submitted to the Commission in 2018.  Further payment applications in respect of €142m were submitted by end June 2019 across the priorities as set out in the following table.

ESF €m

YEI €m

Exchequer €m

Total €m

Payment Applications 2018 €m

Payment Applications June 2019 €m

Total Payment Applications €m

Priority

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

209.864

 

 

419.728

0

137.36

137.36

2

148.808

 

148.808

297.616

14.51

0

14.51

3

107.699

 

107.699

215.397

93.87

0

93.87

4

68.145

 68.145

68.145

204.436

112.25

4.75

117

5

10.00

 

10.00 

20.00 

0

0

0

Total

544.516

68.145

544.516

1157.177

220.63

142.11

362.74

Payment applications for a further €180m are currently being finalised for submission to the Commission shortly.  This will bring the total amount claimed to some €540m, representing some 47% of the OP value, by the end of the year.

The European Commission published its proposals on the Post 2020 MFF in May 2018. Ireland’s indicative allocation of EU co-finance for the forthcoming 2021-2027 ESF+ programme is €579 million in current prices. This includes other funds which are being merged with the ESF under the proposed ESF+ regulation, namely the YEI and the Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived (FEAD). For comparison the below table details the ESF, YEI and FEAD allocations in the 2014-2020 period and the proposed ESF+ allocation for 2021-2027.

ESF Allocation PEIL 2014-2020 €

YEI Allocation 2014-2020 €

FEAD Allocation 2014-2020 €

ESF+ Allocation 2021-2027 (includes FEAD and YEI) €

544,515,826

68,145,419

22,766,327

579,000,000

These figures are indicative as the negotiations on the MFF are continuing with the Finnish presidency due to submit a negotiation box with MFF figures ahead of the next European Council meeting in December 2019.

The ErasmusPRO initiative was introduced to boost long term mobility for VET learners. ErasmusPRO was formally announced on 5 October 2017 and first included within the Erasmus+ Call for Proposals for 2018. Therefore financial figures are only available for 2018 and 2019. In both of these years, Léargas has issued two calls for applications for funding, one in February and one in October. The allocations to Ireland under the Erasmus PRO programme are as follows:

2018 (Actual allocation)

2019 (Estimate allocation)

(2020 Projected allocation)

ErasmusPRO*

€0.5M

€0.7M

€0.8M

*Note the figures have been rounded

In 2018, the overall funding (under both calls) allocated to Erasmus+ Key Action 1 VET Mobility was €3.8m; of this, €0.5m was allocated to ErasmusPRO.  2019 figures have not been finalised since funding amounts have not yet been confirmed under the second call in October. However, the estimate is that by the end of 2019, the total for both calls will be approx. €5.2m allocated to KA1 VET Mobility, of which approx. €0.7m will be allocated to ErasmusPRO.  At present, the projected allocation for Erasmus+ KA1 VET Mobility in 2020 is €5.9m; based on figures in 2018 and 2019, Léargas would expect approx. €0.8m to be allocated to ErasmusPRO.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (73, 74)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

73. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 276 of 5 November 2019, if the additional accommodation will be in place for a school (details supplied) for the commencement of the 2020-2021 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46908/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

74. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 276 of 5 November 2019, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some students have not been offered a place in a school in the area despite applying for each commutable school in the town and surrounding districts; his views on whether this is fair; and his plans to address same. [46909/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 74 together.

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application for additional accommodation from the school in question. I wish to advise the Deputy that the assessment process to determine the school’s permanent accommodation needs is nearing completion. The provision of any additional accommodation on the site must be carefully planned considering the limitations of the site. A decision will be conveyed to the Patron as soon as the assessment process is completed.

I also wish to advise that in order to meet the immediate accommodation needs of the school, interim accommodation has been approved. I can confirm the Patron is currently tendering for the interim accommodation approved and it is expected to have all interim accommodation in place for September 2020.

In relation to school admissions, parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available, the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. The Deputy will note however that the selection process procedures and enrolment policy are the responsibility of the individual school authorities.

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (75)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

75. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the safe checks in place to authenticate the votes cast in the recent secondary school patronage processes to ensure that the PPS numbers and Eircode of those that voted in the process correlate with eligible voters, that is, children in second to sixth year classes, which correlate with their home address in the eligible school planning area. [46915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required.  This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.

The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice in expressing a preference for their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education.

My Department has put in place a verification process that incorporates a number of checks in relation to parental preferences received, including checking information provided as part of the survey against information held on the Department's enrolment databases for the purpose of planning for schools.

Included in the measures are the identification and removal of duplicate preferences, preferences with invalid PPSNs, preferences from addresses with Eircodes outside the relevant school planning area(s) and preferences received in respect of children in class groups outside of the eligible cohort for the relevant process.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (76)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

76. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school building project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46948/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning - Stage 2(b), which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate and the preparation of Tender Documents.  All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Stage 2(b) report has recently been submitted to my Department for review.

Upon review of the report, my Department will revert to the school regarding the further progression of this project, including pre-qualification of contractors.

The pre-qualification process normally takes 8 to 12 weeks to complete.

The next stage of architectural planning for the project will then be stage 3 - tender stage. 

A tender process normally takes 7 or 8 months to complete.

Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Ceisteanna (77)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

77. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for further tuition hours by a person (details supplied). [46954/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of specific reasons, are unable to attend school.

In exceptional cases my Department will consider home tuition applications on behalf of students with diagnoses of school phobia and/or associated depression/anxiety which has caused major disruption to their attendance at school.

This exception will only apply where a continued absence from school is required to facilitate appropriate medical or therapeutic intervention with a view to the reintegration of the student in their school.

Home tuition is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances. 

Generally, grant aid based on a range of between 2 and 10 hours tuition may be approved with the allocation reflecting the level of attendance in the previous school year and whether the attendance was at primary or post primary level.

As a general guide, up to 5 hours may be granted to children at primary level while students at post primary level may be granted between 2 and 10 hours. The Maximum of 10 hours is for leaving certificate students.

Based on the information provided in the application referred to by the Deputy, my Department sanctioned a Home Tuition grant towards the provision of 4 hours tuition per week.

An appeal has been received by my Department’s Special Education Section and is currently being reviewed.

State Examinations Appeals

Ceisteanna (78)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

78. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students that sat their leaving certificate in 2019 that had their appeals fee refunded subsequent to a successful re-check of an exam paper. [46964/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.