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PAC queries 56 million euro spend on temporary school accommodation in two years

The Department of Education has been called on to begin a comprehensive review of the spending with some arrangements dating back 20 years.

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Screengrab of Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Oireachtas TV/PA).

Screengrab of Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Oireachtas TV/PA).

Screengrab of Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Oireachtas TV/PA).

The Public Accounts Committee has called for a comprehensive review of temporary accommodation in schools after a 56 million euro spend in two years.

A report published by the PAC on Friday found that the longest arrangement for temporary schools accommodation dates back over 20 years to 2000.

The report raises questions over whether the situation is providing value for money to the taxpayer.

The committee questioned whether temporary accommodation arrangements for schools are providing value-for-money, particularly when there are agreements that date back up to 20 yearsPAC chairman Brian Stanley

It calls on the Department of Education to undertake a comprehensive review in all schools that have been open for more than five years, before the end of the year.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the PAC, said: “Expenditure on temporary school accommodation in 2018 was 26.2 million euro and this increased to 29.5 million in 2019.

“The committee questioned whether temporary accommodation arrangements for schools are providing value for money, particularly when there are agreements that date back up to 20 years.”

The PAC also raised concerns about Department of Education expenditure on posting payslips to staff, after it found 10.2 million euro had been spent over six years posting payslips to approximately 130,000 staff on a fortnightly basis.

The department informed the committee that it currently operates four separate payroll systems and that an interim upgrade of the payroll system is due to take place before the end of 2021.

Mr Stanley said: “The committee is of the opinion that the Department could use the 1.7 million euro it is spending every year more effectively than by posting payslips.

“While the development and implementation of an electronic payroll system would require up-front capital expenditure, this would represent value for money for the State in the long-term.

“We recommend that the department begins to develop an electronic payroll system as a matter of urgency, provide a detailed timeline for the development of this system by the third quarter of this year and give the Committee annual updates on its progress.”

PA


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