Oral Questions – Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

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Clare submitted two questions to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, on what Department of Education officials have called ‘woefully inadequate’ capital funding for schools, and on inequitable two-tier pay for teachers. Her questions were unfortunately not selected from the lottery for Oral response, but you can see the Written Answers below.

QUESTION NO:  70
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe)
by Deputy Clare Daly

for ORAL ANSWER on 31/05/2016

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his discussions with the Department of Education and Skills regarding what is described in a briefing document for the new Minister for Education and Skills as ‘woefully inadequate’ capital funding for schools and regarding steps to address this funding crisis.

REPLY.
I understand that the assessment included in the briefing document referred to in the Deputy’s question refers to the capital funding position for Third Level rather than capital funding for schools.

I am advised by my Department that the basis to the statement is that existing capital funding for third level is already committed to certain projects which is interpreted in the briefing as implying that that there would be no funding available for new projects in the Third Level sector, outside of PPP arrangements.

However, the Programme for a Partnership Government states that following the mid-term review of the Capital Plan which is expected mid-2017, capital investment in education will be increased in education, along with other priorities.  In this regard, the Programme commits that the new Government will propose Oireachtas approval for a cumulative, additional €4billion in exchequer capital investment up to 2021.

The Programme for Government also states that following the publication of the Expert Group report on the Future Funding of the Higher Education Sector, the Government proposes that the relevant cross party Oireachtas Committee review its recommendations and outline a proposed funding plan for this sector.  This would be expected to relate to both current and capital spending.

QUESTION NO:  61
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe)
by Deputy Clare Daly

for ORAL ANSWER on 31/05/2016

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he is aware of reports that teachers who commenced employment in 2011 will earn between €200,000 and €300,000 less over their careers than teachers who commenced employment before 2011 as a result of measures introduced in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009 to 2015; and if he will repeal these Acts, given the gross inequity of this situation.

REPLY.
The issue of addressing the difference in incremental salary scales between those public servants, including Teachers, who entered public service employment since 2011 and those who entered before that date was addressed with the relevant union interests under the provisions of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA). Any further consideration of remuneration for any group of public servants, including issues relating to more recently recruited public servants, will fall to be examined within the provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013 -2018 (Lansdowne Road Agreement).  Any such consdieraton  will also of course have to comply with the terms of the Financial Emergency in the Public Interest Acts 2009 – 2013 (FEMPI), as well as its affordability being underpinned through delivering enhanced work place practices and productivity. It is particularly worth noting that under the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) the process of restoring public service pay is commencing. An important feature of this process is the flat rate increases which are  being implemented and which are proportionately more valuable to those public servants including Teachers who are at an early stage in their careers. Furthermore and specifically in respect of Teachers the restoration of the Supervision and Substitution payment is also provided for under the LRA subject to there being  compliance on the part of the relevant unions with the provisions of that Agreement.

The Programme for Government also states that Government will establish a Public Service Pay Commission to examine pay levels across the public service.  The precise structure of such a commission and the technical aspects as to how it would operate have yet to be decided upon and would require broad consultation, including engagement with staff representatives as was committed to in the Lansdowne Road Agreement.   My officials have begun to review international best practice in respect of public service pay determination models.    This will help frame the Government’s thinking on how to establish a fair, transparent and accountable process for determining public service pay, taking into account the views of all stakeholders.