Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Target to cut allowances missed

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin put the failure down to the sheer size and scale of the review

The Government has failed in its target to save 75 million euro in a slash and burn of public sector pay bonuses.

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, said his officials looked at more than 1,100 allowances and more than 800 business cases for retaining the payouts as they are or in modified form.

Mr Howlin put the failure down to the sheer size and scale of the review.

"This will not impact however, on the achievement of the pay bill budget for the year which will be fully realised," a statement from his department said.

At present an estimated 30% of Government spending goes on pay - almost 15.4 billion euro.

In 2011, about 1.8 billion euro of that related to allowances and overtime, with health 252m euro in overtime and 616m euro in allowances; education with zero overtime and 488m euro in allowances; and the Garda with 90m euro on overtime including the 24m euro spent policing the year's state visits and 218m euro on overtime.

The review is part of wider steps to reduce the pay-related cost of the public sector by 3.8 billion euro from 2009-2015 - a cut of one fifth.

Mr Howlin said where changes are needed on other allowances management will open talks with unions to make use of the Croke Park agreement.

Some of the pay bonuses and salary top-ups to be abolished by the department for new entrants include qualification allowances for teachers; cash handling allowances for university staff; radio, bicycle and transport allowances for gardai; shoe and clothing allowance for DIT caretaking staff; special HSE rates for working bank holiday weekends; and underwear and nightwear allowance for defence employees among dozens of others.

Others which may be modified for new entrants are uniform expenses in the civil service; supervision and substitution costs in education; diving call-out and allowances for the defence staff; taxi allowances for the National Gallery; on call and flexibility allowances for the Garda Ombudsman's office; benefit in kind mileage allowance for social protection staff; early/late allowance at the National Library; unsocial hours in the Inland Fisheries; overseas weekend allowance for Enterprise Ireland.

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