Fine Gael committed to protecting frontline services

A key element of Fine Gael’s 5 Point Plan to get Ireland Working is to modernise our public services and reward effort and innovation while penalising waste and inefficiency, according to Fine Gael’s Enterprise Spokesman, Richard Bruton.

“In a time of austerity when cuts are being made across the board, Fine Gael is determined to protect vital frontline services in the public sector provided by doctors, nurses, teachers, Gardaí and local authority workers. The extra 18,000 reduction in numbers being proposed by Fine Gael through voluntary redundancy is focused entirely on back office personnel.

“Fine Gael recognises that thousands of workers are trapped within a public service that is failing them. Our Reinventing Government plan sets out how we will transform the public sector and make it more streamlined, efficient and responsive to the public. Key to our plans is our determination to protect frontline services while making savings elsewhere in the system.

“The reality is quite stark: if we do not make savings in our public sector, then all staff will end up with their pay being hit or their taxes being hiked. We simply cannot go on with the system the way it is. We believe we can save over €5 billion, or 1 euro in 10 spent by public bodies, by confronting waste, duplication and inefficiency. We recently set out how we anticipate making significant savings through:

• Streamlining processes such as by the creation of a Single Public Entitlement Service, Business Inspectorate and Licence Authority

• Abolishing over 145 quangos, State bodies and companies;

• Dismantling the HSE;

• A one third reduction in civil service back office staff;

• Streamlining services

“As a result of these administrative and bureaucratic cutbacks Fine Gael believes we can, over four years, reduce the numbers on the payroll by 10%, or 30,000. Fianna Fáil is committed to a 12,000 reduction over the same period through the impact of the public sector recruitment moratorium. Our target would require an additional 18,000 reductions, which will be achieved through normal retirements and through voluntary redundancies in back office services. There will be no compulsory redundancies.

“This means, in practice, that over each of the next four years an additional 4,500 administrative positions in the public service, State agencies and quangos across Ireland will go.

“As part of our employment framework in the public service, and reflecting our plans to streamline back office services, Fine Gael is in a position to credibly commit to an increase of almost 2,500 teachers from 2010 by 2014 levels in order to maintain current pupil-teacher ratios.

“Fine Gael has already committed to not increasing income tax rates, bands or allowances for all workers. In order for us to deliver on this commitment we must make savings across the system. If those savings are to be made we are absolutely committed to protecting the frontline service providers.”