Wednesday, 21 April 2021
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Public Expenditure Data
95. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated level of public expenditure for 2021; the extent to which the level 5 restrictions in place since the end of 2020 have impacted on the forecasts he made in Budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20389/21]
125. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cumulative additional public expenditure undertaken to meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of March 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20390/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 95 and 125 together.
Budget 2021 provided for an overall expenditure ceiling €87.8 billion this year. Of this funding, €75¾ billion was allocated to core expenditure programmes with €6½ billion allocated to Departments for measures related to Covid-19. Further to this, €5.4 billion was set aside in reserve to ensure Government has the flexibility to respond to the evolving situation with the virus during the year with specific, targeted measures. These reserve funds bring the provision for measures to respond to Covid-19 this year to almost €12 billion.
All told, across 2020 and 2021, we will have provided over €28 billion for Covid related spending. This substantial additional funding is a result of the exceptional circumstances arising from this pandemic, with focus on implementing measures to support our people and businesses experiencing extreme difficulties and on ensuring that our health service has the resources to respond to the crisis.
The scale of these supports is clear when expenditure for the 12 months to the end of March this year is compared to the same period to last year. In the 12 months to the end of this March, total gross voted expenditure reported in the Exchequer returns amounts to almost €87.8 billion. This is over €18.3 billion higher than the previous 12 months and represents an increase of over 26%.
The impact of the Level 5 restrictions is evident from expenditure in the Department of Social Protection. In the first three months of this year, €1.8 billion has been spent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) against an allocation of €0.6 billion in the Revised Estimates for Public Services (REV) 2021. At the end of March, expenditure of €1.2 billion on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) was only slightly higher than the REV provision. With Government having agreed to extend these supports to the end of June, the additional expenditure on these supports will place a significant demand on the €5.4 billion of Contingency Funds set aside in Budget 2021.
As we move towards June, we will bring proposals forward to ensure that the necessary supports are in place to support the economy, workers and society to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Consequently, policy decisions in particular relating to the PUP and EWSS for the period after June would most likely require an increase in the overall expenditure amount for 2021.