Gross exchequer pay bill to increase to nearly €15.5bn

Revised spending estimates show public pension expenditure is to drop by €14.8m

The gross exchequer pay bill will come close to €15.5 billion next year, up more than €268 million on the forecast out-turn for 2015 as increases in take-home pay under the Lansdowne Road deal take effect.

Revised 2016 spending estimates from Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin show that gross expenditure on public pensions is forecast to drop €14.8 million next year to €2.9 billion. “There were 27 fortnightly pay-runs in 2015, which will revert back to the usual 26 pay-runs in 2016, and this accounts for the apparent reduction in the pensions bill.” said a spokeswoman for Mr Howlin’s department.

The revised estimates document, known in official circles as “the Rev”, shows that the net exchequer pay bill is forecast to reach €15.45 billion, up 1.4 per cent on the 2015 estimate. The figures do not include local authority pay costs, which are not exchequer funded.

The forecast pay bill increase follows the Lansdowne Road agreement, under which some 300,000 civil and public servants will receive an increase of €2,000 in earnings between next month and September 2017.


Public pay

The estimates documents, published on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure, show that public pay will command 30 per cent of gross current expenditure next year while pensions will take 6 per cent. Gross voted expenditure, including expenditure from the social insurance and national training funds, will amount to €55.3 billion next year. Current or day-to-day expenditure is set to reach €55.3 billion, alongside €4 billion in capital or investment expenditure .

The revised estimates documents updates the 2016 expenditure report, published with the Budget in mid-October.

Mr Howlin’s department pointed to a €42 million increase in voted expenditure in the revised figures over the amount set out on Budget day.

This includes a €20 million allocation to the Department of Health for mental health services and €8 million to the Department of Jobs to support the IDA Ireland regional strategy.

External consultants

Expenditure on external consultants is forecast to decline marginally to €49.73 million next year from the €50.53 million estimate in 2015, according to the revised estimates.

The documents include an inaugural €2.7 million estimate for the new Policing Authority, which will operate under the aegis of the Justice and Equality vote group. Some €1.7 million of the estimate will be allocated for pay. The documents also show that the State subvention for Irish Water will rise 20 per cent next year to €479 million from €399 million. The increase is in line with a schedule agreed in 2014.

The estimate for the Central Statistics Office rises next year to €82 million from €52.8 million, which reflects preparations for Census 2016.

The documents include a series of “output targets” for 2016 in each of the vote groups.

In the case of the Department of Finance, for example, the targets include the preparation and execution of the sale of the nationalised Allied Irish Banks. A 25 per cent stake in the bank is to be floated on London and Dublin stock markets next year. The document notes, however, that the AIB sale is “subject to Government decision”.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times