Written answers

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Public Expenditure Policy

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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110. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he remains satisfied that public spending continues to proceed as anticipated notwithstanding the impact of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36576/20]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Managing the delivery of public services within allocations is a key responsibility of each Minister and Department. There are important measures in place at all times to ensure that our budgetary targets are being met. These measures continue to be in place for all public expenditure, including core expenditure as well as additional expenditure allocated as part of the response to Covid-19. As is usual, my Department is in regular contact with all other Departments and offices to ensure that all expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters. There is regular reporting to Government on expenditure levels.

As set out in the most recent Fiscal Monitor, published by the Department of Finance, total gross voted expenditure at end-October 2020 was €65,547 million. This is €8,604 million, or 15.1% ahead of profile. It should be noted however, that expenditure profiles for the year were published in February and are based on the expenditure allocations set out in the 2020 Revised Estimates Volume. This means that the impact of additional resources allocated in respect of Covid-19 are not reflected in these profiles. As such, spending can be expected to run significantly ahead of profile for the remainder of the year. Gross voted current expenditure of €60,000 million, is €8,662 million, or 16.9% above profile. Gross voted capital expenditure of €5,547 million, is €58 million, or 1% below profile and up €886 million, or 19% on October 2019.

The vast majority of identified overruns in 2020 to date relate to expenditure allocated in response to Covid-19. Current expenditure in the Department of Health is ahead of profile by €1.36 billion at end October 2020. This is due to the drawdown of funds to the HSE, to support maximising capacity within the system and to allow for the purchase of necessary equipment such as PPE. The Department of Social Protection is ahead of profile by almost €6.9 billion at this point in the year. This is due to payments introduced in respect of Covid-19 to support employees and businesses. There is a Covid-19 related impact on the Department of Transport, for which current expenditure is €307 million ahead of profile at end October. This is due to the drop in passenger numbers and associated revenue as a result of public health measures.

Looking at capital expenditure, the impact of Covid-19 can also be seen. Capital expenditure in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is ahead of profile for end-October by €587 million. This relates to the additional funding which was allocated in light of the impact of Covid-19 on businesses. The Department of Education is ahead of profile on capital expenditure by €91 million. The main driver of this is the issuing of additional minor works grants in light of Covid-19.

The Government has allocated significant additional resources to Departments in response to Covid-19. Expenditure Report 2021 set out total gross voted expenditure of €87.1 billion for 2020, with additional expenditure of €16.7 billion primarily driven by Covid-19. These allocations are being made in the usual way, with Estimates agreed by Government and voted on by the Dáil. A number of Revised Estimates and Further Revised Estimates have been approved by the Dáil in recent weeks and months to give effect to these increased allocations for 2020. A number of Supplementary Estimates have also been presented to the Dáil in the last number of weeks and work is currently ongoing to finalise the last number of Supplementary Estimates for 2020.


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