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Howlin confirms review of €1.5bn of public sector allowances

One union says it expects the review of some 800 different allowances and that some will go.

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

SOME PUBLIC SECTOR allowances, which cost the State some €1.5 billion annually, will not be protected as core pay under the Croke Park Agreement, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday Howlin said that while some of the 800 different allowances could be considered as part of core payments, some are “historic” and there is no longer a justification for them.

Changes would be likely to affect only new entrants to the public sector with the IMPACT trade union acknowledging today that some allowances would be removed following a review.

In response to a question from the Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, Howlin told the Dáil yesterday: “Some of the allowances in question are historic.

“When the Deputy reads all 800 cases in due course, she will raise an eyebrow when she comes across some cases and she will wonder whether there is a place for them.”

This could mean that the €65 per year shoe allowance could be scrapped. The controversial payment is made to some 1,000 service officers in government departments who spend a lot of their working hours on their feet.

“We are reviewing every sector of expenditure for the first time in my Department so we can determine objectively whether shoe allowances or others are proper and fit for purpose in 2012 and in the current economic climate,” Howlin said.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Breakfast programme this morning, the IMPACT trade union’s communications officer Niall Shanahan acknowledged that allowances would be reviewed and said that a business case could be made for some of them.

“Our expectation is that they will remove some allowances but we don’t yet know what those allowances will be,” he said, adding that it was a “very complex” review to undertake but that he was “confident that you will see very substantial savings”.

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Hugh O'Connell

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