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extra spending

Govt green lights extra €4bn in spending, including close to €1bn on health

The total amount of extra spending this year beyond the budget is €6 billion.

THE GOVERNMENT TODAY signed off on an additional €4 billion in spending on a range of departments and agencies, including close to €1 billion on health spending.

The total amount Supplementary Estimates have cost in 2023 is €6 billion, coming in just behind last year.

The extra spending, beyond that which was set out in the budget, will focus on health, cost of living measures, and funding for those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

An additional €960 million will be spent on health, which will fund increased demand and activity in the health service, particularly in the Acute Hospital Sector.

It brings the final health allocation to around €22.4 billion.

At an Oireachtas Health Committee last month, HSE chief executive Bernard Gloster said that the health service will have a deficit of around €1.5 billion by the end of this year.

When asked why the amount Gloster had specified has not been funded, a government spokesperson said that the €960 million is “essentially what is agreed at this point” and what the government has allocated.

The health service is expected to operate within its capacity and the available resources allocated, “something we have been saying for many many years”, said the spokesperson.

He added that the government has been running surpluses “specifically to allow for contingencies like this”.

‘Black swan events’

“We live in a very uncertain world at the moment, there are plenty of black swan events taking place annually, we just cannot foresee what is going to happen next, that is exactly why we have been running the economy responsibly, putting aside funding on an ongoing basis,” said the government spokesperson.

An extra €850 million will also be provided to the Department of Education for accelerated progress on the school building programme and additional pay costs.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has also received €170 million for both Tusla and Disability Service pressures.

Around €1.1 billion is being used to fund this year’s elements of the Cost-of-Living package that was announced as part of Budget 2024.

Funding will also be provided to support Government Departments providing services to people arriving in Ireland after fleeing the war in Ukraine.

This includes additional school places and medical cards.

Minister for Public Expenditure Donohoe said the additional €4 billion in funding for supplementary estimates brings the total amount of extra spending this year beyond the budget to €6 billion.

He added: “This additional funding demonstrates the responsive actions taken by Government throughout 2023 to provide additional Cost of Living measures in the face of continued elevated inflation levels.

“These measures are being rolled out in a timely manner with those on lower incomes benefitting to a greater extent.

Minister Donohoe also said the funding “recognises the additional demand facing our public services particularly in the health and education sectors” and remarked that “public services continue to operate in a post-pandemic environment with increased demand and complexity”.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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