Howlin says he expects health budget cuts to be met

Minister responds to €200m shortfall in targets

The Bill to abolish severance pay is being sponsored by Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.

The Bill to abolish severance pay is being sponsored by Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.

Mon, Apr 14, 2014, 07:33


Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has said he believes that savings required in the health budget will be met.

He was responding to the disclosure in The Irish Times on Saturday that the Government was informed that close to €200 million in health savings for this year would not materialise. On RTÉ television’s The Week In Politics yesterday, Mr Howlin said the Haddington Road agreement on pay and productivity in the public service was a “negotiated enabler” of real savings.

“Every line department . . . the HSE directly . . . was involved in the negotiations and signed off on it,” he added. “Like every other department, I know that it is going to live up to the targets because it is part of the overall budgetary arithmetic.”

The shortfall is expected to be raised in the Dáil this week, before the House adjourns on Thursday for the Easter recess. Last week, senior Department of Health and HSE officials provided a confidential consultancy report to Mr Howlin’s department setting out the potential shortfall in the figures.

Under its service plan for the year, the health service was expected to generate savings of €290 million under the Haddington Road deal which came into effect last July. It also earmarked further pay savings of €108 million to be achieved by other measures.

However, the report, drawn up by PA consultants, suggested that none of the €108 million in savings was likely to be delivered and that the €290 million basic target under the Haddington Road agreement would not be fully reached.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said it was “very serious” that the HSE had failed to meet the Haddington Road savings target.