Questions for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

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Oral Questions, Public Expenditure

QUESTION NO: 19

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 06/11/2014

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he will take to tackle low pay in the public service.

REPLY.

Notwithstanding the necessary imposition of pay reductions on public servants through the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009-2013, terms and conditions including pay rates for public servants have traditionally been determined through collective bargaining processes with due regard to statutory provisions including the National Minimum Wage Act. Indeed, the Deputy will be aware that one of the first actions of this Government on taking office was to increase with effect from July 2011, the Statutory Minimum Wage rate, reduced by the previous Government in 2010, to its pre-existing rate. While the fiscal emergency which arose through the mismanagement of the economy by the previous Government gave rise to the exceptional statutory reductions in pay imposed on public servants, the process of collective bargaining has survived and has been highlighted by the concluding of difficult public service agreements including most recently, the Haddington Road Agreement, by staff representatives and their public service employers.

In relation to the pay reductions imposed on public servants through the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009-2013, the reductions imposed have been progressive, thereby ensuring that reductions imposed impacted on low paid workers least and that higher reductions were imposed on the higher paid. Significantly, the more recent pay cuts applied to public servants under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 and the Haddington Road Agreement apply only to those higher paid public servants on annual salaries of €65,000 or more. The core pay of 87% of the workers in the public service was not reduced by the legislation.

The Haddington Road Agreement sets the terms of pay in the public service until 2016. The fiscal targets in Budget 2014, which the Government is committed to achieving, are based on the reduced remuneration rates as well as on the revenue accruing from the Pension Related Deduction and Public Service Pension Reduction as provided for under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts.

In order to continue the recent encouraging evidence of progress in relation to the public finances, any amelioration in the impact of the Financial Emergency measures, and public service pay policy generally, will continue to have regard to our overall fiscal targets including achieving a deficit of less than 3% of GDP by the end of 2015. Nevertheless, the Government has acted to begin an amelioration of the measures. As provided for in the Haddington Road Agreement and subsequently legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013, the rate of PRD on the €15,000 to €20,000 band of pay received in a year fell from 5% to 2.5% on 1 January 2014. This rate cut is worth €125 annually in gross terms to most public servants, with those taxed at the standard rate enjoying the greater gain in terms of an increase to take-home pay.

The public service unions have indicated their intention, should the State’s financial circumstances permit, to lodge a pay claim next year. If such a claim is made the Government will of course have to consider it, in line with the prevailing fiscal position. The legal position concerning the financial emergency legislation, which has underpinned the reductions to date, will also have to be addressed as part of putting in place more normal pay setting arrangements in the public service for the future.

QUESTION NO: 33
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 06/11/2014

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the areas of recruitment planned for the public service; the grades at which recruitment will take place; and if the local authorities will be included.

REPLY.

In my role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have overarching responsibility for workforce planning and recruitment to the Civil Service. The following recruitment competitions for the Civil Service are currently in progress by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) or are scheduled to take place in 2015.

Competitions in Progress

A competition for Clerical Officer in the Civil and Public Service is ongoing and the first offers of appointment from this competition are currently being made. It is anticipated that approximately 300 will be placed on the panel for the Civil Service.

A competition for Graduate Economist in the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service closed in late October. A competition for Administrative Officer in the Civil Service and for graduate recruitment for the Local Authority Sector also closed in late October.

Competitions Scheduled for remainder of 2014

An Executive Officer /ICT Specialist competition for the Civil Service will be announced this week. Arrangements for an open Executive Officer competition are being finalised and will be advertised later this month.

Competitions Scheduled for 2015

In respect of Civil Service competitions to be held in 2015, plans are being made an Assistant Principal Officer competition which will include both open recruitment and interdepartmental elements. In addition, an open Principal Officer competition will take place in the first quarter of 2015.

Recruitment plans for the public service more generally are a matter, in the first instance, for the Minister with responsibility for each of the relevant sectors of the public service. In particular recruitment into the local authority sector is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government within the overall framework currently in place to manage the public service pay bill and public service numbers.