Government Progress Overview Q4 2015

Government Progress Overview

 

Growth & Sustainability have Returned                                                                         D / Finance
Progress GDP rose by 5.2% in 2014, making us the fastest growing economy in Europe.
The deficit was over €18bn in 2010, but will be reduced to €4.4bn by the end of 2015.
We regained ‘investment-grade’ status with Moody’s / S&P / Fitch.  And we reduced our cost of borrowing from 15% in July 2011 to 1.6% (10 year bond issue, Oct 2014).
Reform Budgets 2015-2016 reduced income tax & the USC for the first time in 6 years.
Budgets 2012-2014 did not increase income tax & maintained core social welfare rates of jobseeker’s benefit, carer’s allowance, & state pension.
Restructured the banks and received €5.5bn from recent sales of bank shares. Reduced the cost of FF’s bailout of Anglo by getting rid of the promissory notes.
Primary home mortgage arrears have decreased by 31% since June 2013; after the Personal Insolvency Bill (Dec 12) & Central Bank’s targets for main banks (Mar 13).
Investment The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has invested over €700m, by the end of 2014, benefiting 79 companies and supporting over 8,300 jobs.
The European Investment Bank invested €932m in Ireland in 2014, a 37% increase.

 

Employment is Growing                                                             D / Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation
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1,000 jobs are being added each week in 2015.
Over 135,000 jobs have been added since the launch of Action Plan for Jobs in 2012.
Reform The ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ has delivered over 1,000 job creation measures in 4 years and has been commended by the OECD.
Published 5 out of 8 Regional Jobs Plans so far as part of a €250m strategy.
Budget 2016 increased the minimum wage by 50c, in line with Low Pay Commission.
31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are now supporting 4,000 extra jobs by acting as first-stop-shops to support businesses seeking info & support.  LEOs combine the resources of Enterprise Ireland, County Enterprise Boards and Local Authorities.
Investment ‘Construction 2020’ has 75 actions aimed at tripling housing output and creating 60,000 jobs by 2020.  Launched new €500m house-building fund, supported by ISIF.
Additional €800m available to Irish SMEs through establishment of Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). 1,600 customers already benefitted through AIB & BOI.
CGT Entrepreneur Relief: a capital gains tax cut for entrepreneurs from 33% to 20%.

 

The Public Sector & Politics are being Reformed                   D / Public Expenditure & Reform
Progress Public service numbers were reduced by 34,000 from 2011 to 2014, exceeding the 30,000 promise in our 5 point plan.
The Exchequer pay bill has decreased by over €3.7bn from €17.5bn in 2009 to €13.9bn in 2014 (net of Pensions Related Deduction).
Reform PeoplePoint, the Civil Service HR and Pensions Shared Services Centre, has been implemented and is now serving over 30,000 employees across 35 organisations.
There are now 181 fewer state bodies than when the Government took office.
National Revaluation Programme making commercial rates system more responsive. Reformed regime so that sports clubs only pay rates on income-generating buildings.
Strengthened Freedom of Information Act, established whistleblower framework and introduced a register of lobbying to increase transparency.
A new open and fair process for State boards appointments.
Investment The Government’s new Capital Plan plans to invest €27bn over 2016-2021 to address emerging infrastructural needs and create 45,000 construction jobs.
€320m investment package for the Border, Midland & Western Region (May 2015).

 

Restoring our Economic Sovereignty and International Reputation                    D / Taoiseach
Progress We exited the EU/IMF bailout as planned, without a new precautionary credit line.
The Govt reduced the cost of the bailout by saving €9bn from reduced interest rates and reducing our borrowing by €20bn via extended maturities on EFSF/EFSM loans.
€1.5bn in cash savings on the completion of early repayment of €18bn of IMF loans.
Established the 1st Constitutional Convention, which facilitated citizen involvement.
Reform Cost of politics reduced: ended unvouched expenses & significant cuts in politicians’ salaries.  Corporate donations have been effectively banned.
Dáil sittings are up 33% compared to the previous Dail term under FF/Green govt.
Civic society & experts can influence Bills in their infancy at a new pre-legislative stage. Committees will play a much stronger role in law-making in future and will be able to scrutinise Departments’ budgets before any money is spent.
Investment Established a dedicated Minister of State for Diaspora Affairs, with €6.73m going to 110 organisations supporting the Irish community in Britain.

 

Beginning the Overdue Reform of our Health System                                                   D / Health
Progress 3,000 more staff in the HSE since January: 2,000 in hospitals and 500 in social care.
Fair Deal wait is down from 15 weeks last year to between two and four weeks.
Number of bed days lost through Delayed Discharge has been reduced by 23% since January, a gain of 5,029 bed days.
Free GP care for under 6s & over 70s, 168,000 children & 29,000 over 70s registered.
Reform Expansion of Child Speech & Language Therapy within primary care (€8m provided).
Diabetes Cycle of Care service, for medical & GP Cardholders with Type 2 Diabetes.
Ireland’s first National Sexual Health Strategy & Action Plan launched.
Investment Health budget increase of almost €900 million compared to 2015.
46 new primary care centres have been delivered since May 2011.
New Children’s Hospital has received funding and design phase underway.
64 ambulances being provided this year in a €9.4 million investment under fleet replacement programme.
Permanent Establishment of the Emergency Aeromedical Support Service.
€51 million allocated to hospitals at the start of the year to tackle waiting times.
New Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street.

 

Making Work Pay & Protecting Supports                                                      D / Social Protection
Progress The unemployment rate is down to 8.9% from a peak of 15.1% in Feb 2012.
The Dept’s Compliance & Anti-Fraud Strategy has seconded 20 Gardaí to investigate social welfare fraud, with 4,300 cases investigated and €68m saved in 2014.
Reform New network of Intreo Offices combine access to welfare payments and job supports.
Govt has rolled out 1.6m Public Services Cards, allowing people to access a range of public services more efficiently, simplifying free travel and minimising fraud.
FG is making work pay with measures like the Back to Work Family Dividend, allowing jobseekers retain €30/week for each child for first year back in employment.
Investment JobBridge has provided 44,000 interns with placements; 61% move on to paid work.
2,200 long-term unemployed people have availed of the Gateway Scheme, run by county councils, with the objective of bridging the gap between the dole and work.
Over 8,000 employees have availed of JobsPlus, which provides a subsidy to employers to hire the long-term unemployed.

 

Delivering 21st Century Teaching & Learning                                              D / Education & Skills
Progress 2,260 new teachers in 2016, including 300 new primary teachers reducing class size from 28:1 to 27:1.
An increase in science subjects: 9.6% increase in the number of candidates in Leaving Cert chemistry, 16.4% for physics and 18% for applied mathematics.
74% of all Springboard participants have left the Live Register, with 45% entering employment within 6 months (2011-2014).
Reform Improved standards and safeguards for the International Education Sector and Student Immigration System.
Reformed Leaving Certificate grades and CAO points, with a reduction in the number of grades and development of a common points system for universities & ITs.
Expansion of apprenticeship offerings to 25 new programmes.
Investment €2.8bn for 310 major school projects, creating 62,000 new permanent school places.
€28.5m for Minor Works grant to primary schools for the current school year; €80m over 2016 and 2017 for a multi-annual Summer Works Scheme for schools.
€10.5m to expand the apprenticeship programme increasing the National Training Fund allocation for apprenticeship from almost €50m to over €60m.

 

Bringing Children’s Interests to the Heart of Govt.                        D / Children & Youth Affairs
Progress Children’s Rights Referendum gave children explicit constitutional protections.
Expanded childcare inspection team to monitor compliance with new regulations.
New programme providing supports to children with disabilities in free pre-school.
Launch of national strategy to give children a role in making decisions that affect their lives, an EU first (Participation Strategy).
Reform Expansion of pre-school enabling children to start pre-school at age three, and to  remain in pre-school until they start school.
Creation of Child and Family Agency (Tusla), the most comprehensive reform of child protection, early intervention and family support services ever undertaken in Ireland.
Investment 8,000 additional childcare places on the Community Childcare Subvention programme, providing affordable childcare for low income families.
Increase in the allocation to Tusla of €38 million.
€500,000 in Youth Capital Funding Scheme for capital grants to youth projects (2015).

 

 

A Citizen-centred Approach to Justice & Equality                                       D / Justice & Equality
Progress Passed ‘Marriage Equality’ referendum, the 34th amendment to the constitution.
Established Garda Victim Service Office in each of the 28 Garda Divisions; 21% increase in funding for the Victims of Crime Office.
Signed Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women & domestic violence.
Reform €2.7 million for the establishment of the Independent Policing Authority.
Personal Insolvency Bill created Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIAs). New Court review where a mortgage lender rejects the borrower’s personal insolvency proposal.
New criminal terrorist legislation & introduction of new offences to combat terrorism.
Launch of new DNA Database System.
Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities published.
Establishment of Charities Regulatory Authority.
Investment 600 new Gardaí to be recruited in 2016.
€5.3m for a further 260 new Garda vehicles.
€60m investment in 30 locations for both new and refurbished Garda Stations.
Budget doubled to support Community Alert and Crimestoppers.
Investing in Transport & Growing Tourism                                D / Transport, Tourism & Sport
Progress A special 9% VAT rate for the tourism industry was introduced as part of the 2011 Jobs Initiative and has created 30,000 jobs (Fáilte Ireland); retained in Budget 2016.
An increase of nearly 7 million in CIE passenger numbers in 2014, over 2013.
Resounding success of initiatives like ‘The Gathering’ and the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’.
On course for a record year for Irish tourism in 2015: a 12.8% increase in visitors in first 10 months of the year.
Reform Reformed taxation of heavy goods vehicles in Budget 2016, in recognition of importance of haulage sector to the continued export led growth of the Irish economy.
New Aviation Policy launched, the first in the history of the State.
New Tourism Policy, ‘People, Place & Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025’ launched.
Investment €10bn investment over 7 years in Capital Plan, including a €6bn investment in roads.
Reinstated Sport Capital Grants with €130m allocated over govt. term, €41m allocated in 2015.  Funding allocated for development of National Indoor Arena.
8% increase in Departmental budget in 2016 to support economy and secure recovery.

 

Putting People First: a New Model of Local Govt                 D /  Environ, Comm & Local Govt.
Progress Resolving Ghost Estates: a 65% decrease in the no. of unfinished developments and a 75% decrease in vacant units in remaining unfinished developments (since 2010).
Creation of Pyrite Remediation Scheme (incl. a Pyrite Resolution Board).  Extended to Dun-Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin in February 2015.
Construction sector employment up by 15,000 in last 12 months.
Approx. 2,000 vacant homes returned to social housing use during 2014.
Reform ‘Putting People First’ is the most far-reaching Local Govt reform since the 1890s.

Reduction of over 650 councillors (from 1,627), with 114 local authorities replaced with 31 integrated authorities. More powers for councillors in planning, roads, traffic, housing, environmental services, recreation, amenity and community development.

Introduction of gender quotas for the next General Election: a minimum of 30% of candidates have to be women or political parties lose 50% of their State funding.
Budget 2016 allocated €70m for addressing homelessness, 55% increase since 2014.
Rent Review period increased from 1 year to 2, new legal protections for renters.
Investment Irish Water to invest €5.5 billion by 2021 to upgrade water and wastewater quality.
€4bn social housing strategy launched to deliver 35,000 housing units by 2020 and to reduce the housing waiting lists by 25% nationally by 2017.

 

New Infrastructure for Jobs & Growth      D / Communications, Energy & Natural Resources
Progress Energy use fell 0.5% and CO2 emissions fell 1.2% in 2014, despite 5.2% GDP growth.
1,000 small businesses have availed of the Govt’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme to help SMEs get online. October’s Budget delivered funding to roll out a further 1,000.
Reform All residences and businesses in Ireland received unique Eircodes in July 2015.
Established ‘GeoScience Ireland’, a business cluster involving the public and private sectors, to win work overseas and develop natural resources in a sustainable way.
Investment Every secondary school in the country now has world class (100Mbps) broadband following a three-year €30m investment.  Primary school programme to follow.
€275m allocated for initial stimulus to deliver Govt’s intervention under National Broadband Plan. Homes with access to high-speed broadband has tripled since 2010.
€45m invested in Better Energy Schemes in 2015. €68m has been allocated for energy efficiency and renewable energy in 2016.

 

Creating a Sustainable Future for Agri-Food & the Marine                    D / Agriculture, F & M
Progress Food and beverage exports have exceeded €10.45bn, growth of 45% since 2009.
Opening of the market for Irish beef in Canada and Oman.
Launch of ‘Food Wise 2025’, ten year strategic roadmap for the Irish agri food sector targeting an increase in exports to €19bn and 23,000 additional jobs by 2025.
Opening up of second tranche of GLAS, increasing participation by 13,000 to 40,000.
Family Transfer Partnerships to encourage succession planning and earlier inter-generational transfer of family farms.
Reform Removal of forestry income from the ‘High Earners Restriction’ for active foresters and farmers, means that clear-felling income will be tax-free.
€550 tax credit and reduced USC rates for farmers amounting to over €800 in additional net income, or 3.5%, based on the average Family Farm Income.
Simplification of minimum rate of on-the-spot inspections from 5% to 1%; increased flexibility in the procedures for conducting inspections.
Investment €494m for Rural Development Programme an increase of over 12.5% on 2015.
€109m increase in Agri-food sector in 2016.
€4.3m investment aid scheme for the commercial horticulture sector.

 

Investing in our Culture                                                                    D / Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht
Progress The Philanthropy Initiative provides an incentive to Arts NGOs to seek funding from sponsors.  Exceeded all targets & generated over €4 for every €1 from taxpayer.
Established National City of Culture initiative; €6m allocated to Limerick in 2014, allowing over 100 grants to be made to local arts, culture and heritage groups.
The new ‘Living City Initiative’: property tax incentives which apply in certain ‘Special Regeneration Areas’ (SRAs) in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford & Kilkenny.
Reform Expanded ‘one stop shop’ genealogy portal, www.irishgenealogy.ie, allowing users to search through digital census data, land records, military archives, Ellis island records.
‘Culture 2025’ discussion document launched, for first ever national cultural policy.
Increased the cap on eligible expenditure for the film tax incentive by 40% in Budget 2016 to attract further productions to our shores.
Investment 175 jobs created and €15m invested in historic buildings through Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme in 2014. €2m investment available under same model in 2016.
12% increase in Department’s 2016 budget. Includes €2.5m increase for Arts Council.
€48m allocated for 2016 Centenary programme, for both flagship and local events.

 

Promoting Ireland’s Peace & Security Role                                                             D / Defence
Progress 443 new recruits to the Irish Defence Forces.
Commencement of Recruitment campaign for General Service Recruits for the Army.
429 Permanent Defence Force (PDF) personnel in 12 different overseas missions.
Launch of White Paper on Defence setting out policy framework for next 10 years.
Irish Navy response to humanitarian crisis involves the recovery of over 7,397.
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Major re-organisation of the Defence Force (a new 2 Brigade structure) enabling the re-deployment of personnel from admin & support functions to operational units.
Investment Commissioning of L.E. Samuel Beckett in 2014; L.E. James Joyce expected in 2015; 3rd new ship LÉ William Butler Yeats scheduled for delivery in July 2016.
Increased dept. budget to over €900m, maintaining Permanent Defence Force numbers at 9,500, ongoing investment in defence equipment and infrastructure.

 

Restoring Ireland’s International Reputation                                                   D / Foreign Affairs
Progress Minister for F.A. co-chaired talks resulting in the Stormont House Agreement and subsequent agreement on roadmap for implementation.
Launch of Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, first clear statement of Ireland’s policy on the diaspora, to foster and support diaspora engagement.
Ireland’s led negotiations on new UN Agreement on a Sustainable Development Agenda: Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Goods exports reach €8.8 billion in May 2015, 8% increase on May 2014.
€640 million for development assistance in 2016, an increase of €40 million on 2015.
Reform Establishment of Local Diaspora Engagement Fund to promote diaspora engagement.
Launch of Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World.
New passport card for international air travel, valid for 31 countries in Europe.
Investment €2 million to the international response to the drought in Ethiopia.
€11.6 million in funding under the Emigrant Support Programme.
€41m provided to support humanitarian work as a result of the conflict in Syria.
€2.5 million for the North West Gateway.