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In numbers: How much government spending is protected under Croke Park?

Public pay and pensions can’t be touched under Croke Park. So just how much of public spending does that make up?

A resident's view of the Cusack Stand at Croke Park, where the current public service pay deal was negotiated and after which the deal is informally named.
A resident's view of the Cusack Stand at Croke Park, where the current public service pay deal was negotiated and after which the deal is informally named.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

WITH ALL EYES now firmly fixed on Budget 2013 – which is now just over six weeks away – the prospect of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (or the ‘Croke Park Agreement’) has come back into firm view.

The basic premise of the deal is that public servants won’t face mandatory redundancies or pay cuts, but instead agree to greater flexibility in working practices or to be moved between state agencies.

The deal has long been divisive – coming in for criticism last week when it was (incorrectly) suggested that the reported savings were being overstated – and many believe that the state’s current financial state means the deal should be reviewed.

The current deal, which was agreed before Ireland was forced into an EU-IMF bailout, contains a clause which allows the government to review certain parts of the deal if the economy slides further. Many have argued that now is that time.

In order to help you make up your own mind ahead of Budget 2013 – which will include €2.25 billion of spending cutbacks, details of which we don’t know much about yet – we’ve gone back over the 2012 figures to see exactly how much of government spending goes on pay and pensions.

There’s a few things to bear in mind: a reader’s interpretation of the figures will depend on whether they include capital spending (i.e. major one-off projects like school building, road construction) as well as current spending (more everyday spending like grants, pay, and general operations). We’ve listed both.

Also, the figures below are a slight update from Budget 2012, issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform earlier this year, but they don’t include any overspend or underspend in each area. The health figures, for example, were the aspirational ones from the start of the year and not the current ones.

The spreadsheet below contains a breakdown of the spending by ‘vote’ (an individual allocation in the Budget). Readers should note that there are other areas of spending not accounted for in a ‘vote’, such as contributions to the EU Budget, the running of the Oireachtas, and bank recapitalisation.

Figures for public service allowances – which total €1.1 billion each year – are not included, as the head of the Croke Park implementation body has indicated such payments are not protected under the agreement. This is disputed by trade unions.

The figures show that total ‘voted’ spending in 2012 was estimated at €55,825,664,000 (of which €51,863,876,000 is current, and €3,961,788,000 is capital). The total pay bill was €15,374,715,000, and the total pensions bill €3,038,252,000 – giving a total of €18,412,967,000.

This means that pay and pensions account for 35.5 per cent of current spending, and 33 per cent of all voted spending.

If the spreadsheet below does not load, it can be viewed in a new window here.

Read: Is Fine Gael taking disciplinary action against TDs over critical article?

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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