herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Public service cuts save €650m in a year

FALL: Croke Park Agreement meets cost-reduction target

PUBLIC Service savings of €650m were made in just 12 months.

The Implementation Body for the Croke Park Agreement has met its targets for cost saving in the year to March.

Total savings on pay alone over the two years of the Croke Park Agreement, which aims to reduce costs and staff numbers, will come out between €800m and €900m.

Staff numbers fell by 11,500 in the year to March, which included the surge in retirements in February to avail of favourable pension arrangements.

Staff numbers fell by 17,300 during the first two years of the Agreement and are down by 28,000 from the peak in 2009.

It is believed that between 2,500 and 3,000 essential posts will be filled in the coming year, which may cause cost savings next year to fall to €510m.

Reduction in overtime costs was around 10pc and observers said it would have been more but for overtime bills incurred during the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama.

Another €370m was saved on non-pay headings, using improved procurement techniques, rationalising offices and shared services.

Some 4,500 public servants have been redeployed without compensation.

Work practice changes included new garda, prison and health sector rosters and increased use of civilians in garda stations and prisons.

Disputes have also been settled through binding arbitration, but the report warns more challenges lie ahead to meet an increased demand for public services and says there will be no let up in the pursuit of savings and reform.

Strategic

The Croke Park Agreement was put in place in 2010 as part of the strategic response to the economic crisis this country has faced since 2008.

In March, P J Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Implementation Body, told the Committee on Public Accounts that the gross Exchequer Pay Bill had reduced from a peak of €17.5bn in 2009 to €15.6bn in 2011, or €14.6bn when the effect of the Pension Related Deduction is taken into account -- a fall of nearly €2.9bn.

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