Local authorities: €120 million savings figure set to rise

Wednesday 13th June 2012

Local authority staff delivered total payroll and non-pay savings of almost €120 million in the second year of the Croke Park agreement, a figure expected to rise to almost €133 million a year when non-payroll initiatives are fully implemented. Some €15 million of €88 million in payroll savings came from reductions in overtime and allowances and the use of shorter working weeks and term-time arrangements.

The sector has seen the biggest proportion of staff cuts in the public service, with numbers falling by 18.4%, or 6,432 workers, since 2008. This included a 23% reduction in director of service positions.

The second annual report of the Croke Park implementation body, published today, identified €891 million in annualised payroll and non-pay savings delivered across the entire public service in the second year of the four-year agreement. This is in addition to savings of €597 million achieved in the first year, giving a total of €1.49 billion in ongoing annual savings so far.

Non-pay savings were achieved in local councils through higher productivity, enhanced shared services, integration of services, the development of online services, reduced travel costs, and more effective procurement and purchasing with the development of national and regional procurement networks.

The report says structures are being changed across the local authority sector to cope with revenue and staff reductions, and reports that many local authorities have merged back office support functions, customer services and the organisation of outdoor work. Examples include:

  • Cavan: Reorganisation of county area structures from six to four
  • Clare: Reduced number of directorates
  • Cork county: Economies of scale through change from divisional to functional approach including the transfer of clerical staff to library services on a Tuesday-to-Saturday working pattern with outdoor staff relieving clerical staff in area offices
  • Fingal: Merger of outdoor depots and re-organisation from areas to strategic, corporate and operations divisions with a greater emphasis on frontline service delivery
  • Laois: Water operational areas rationalised from three to two
  • Louth: Major centralisation project of three local authorities and re-structuring of fire services
  • Waterford county: Major reorganisation of outdoor services with a halving of supervisory staff.

The report highlights the mergers of councils in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford as major examples of change currently underway and identifies a greater emphasis on IT and online services across the sector. It gives other examples of change including rationalisation of motor taxation offices and more use of on-line payments in a number of councils including Dublin, Wicklow and Waterford.

See a list of reforms by local authority HERE.

Read the second annual report of the Croke Park implementation body, including a summary of main findings, HERE.

Read the first annual report of the Croke Park implementation body HERE.