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Howlin defends progress in public sector reform despite allowances hurdle

Brendan Howlin says the results of the review on public sector allowances will lead to substantial savings over time.

PUBLIC EXPENDITURE MINISTER Brendan Howlin has defended his progress in reforming public sector pay and allowances, after facing criticism for last week’s review of public allowances which resulted in far less savings than had previously been forecast.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Howlin said the €75 million target for savings from allowances had been based on hopes that the €1.5 billion budget for such allowances could be trimmed by 5 per cent.

Last week’s review resulted in only one allowance being cut immediately, meaning an annual saving of €3 million – less than one twentieth of the amount Howlin had first indicated.

“I set out a target, as I said, of a 5 per cent reduction in allowances. We’ll get more than that over time, there’s no doubt about it,” Howlin insisted.

“We can’t solve all of the problems in 18 months, [but] we have gone a long way to address them all,” he added.

The minister added that there were many significant but separate issues within the public service that needed reform, such as leave entitlements, sick pay and procurement – a mesh of issues he described as “a complete patchwork quilt that I am now pulling together”.

Much of the criticism Howlin had faced was “based on a lack of understanding for what this job is about,” he said.

“One external commentator said we’ve done more in 18 months in terms of reform than in the last 20 years,” he asserted.

Howlin explained that most of the allowances had been discerned as part of “core pay” and therefore could not be cut – saying any moves to the contrary could mean Gardaí would lose up to 20 per cent of their wage, for example.

Kenny defends small savings from cuts to public allowances

Public Sector Allowances:

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