Croke Park Deal sees Longford Council reach €2.6m in savings

Longford County Council have managed to achieve savings of €2.6m as part of the Croke Park agreement Of that figure, €1.6m relates to savings to on the payroll.

Longford County Council have managed to achieve savings of €2.6m as part of the Croke Park agreement Of that figure, €1.6m relates to savings to on the payroll.

Outlining the details, Frank Sheridan said there is a requirement on the council to achieve savings across the various departments under the Public Service Agreement, more commonly known as the Croke Deal.

The agreement, between the government and the public service, runs from 2010 to 2014 and seeks to restore public finances by reducing the deficit to less than three percent of GDP. The savings are to be achieved through efficiencies and revised work practices.

Mr Sheridan said that Longford Local Authorities (Town and County) have, in consultation with the unions, developed a local action plan modelled on the national agreement.

The first return in relation to the agreement was submitted in April this year, covering just over 12 months.

“In general, since the reduction in the local government fund in 2008, Longford Local Authorities have seen the overall numbers employed reduced by 88 employees,” Mr Sheridan said. “It’s a significant number – 20 percent of all staff across all disciplines and grades within the organisation.

“It has also seen the increased central control supply whereby any post we wish to fill requires sanction from the department,” he added, noting that it was previously a function of the County Manager.

Overall, at national level, Mr Sheridan said there has been an 18 percent reduction in staff employed by Local Government.

Returning to Longford, he outlined the savings achieved in by a reduction in payroll amounted to €1.6m, which he said came through “retirements and non-filling of posts”.

“The non-replacement of employees on statutory leave, maternity leave, parental leave, sick leave amounts to €750,000,” he said.

Other savings were achieved through various initiatives, such as the establishment of an income generation team, integration of payroll and HR systems, improved procurement, cost efficiencies and improved productivity. This saved the council a total of €250,000, bringing the total savings to €2.6m.

Mr Sheridan said the cost-saving measures will continue into the future.

Annual leave will be set at a national level.

“The reality is that these reductions impact on staff and the reduction in staff can only negatively impact on the quality of the service delivered,” said Mr Sheridan.

He said it was important to note that all staff have not only taken pay-cuts, but taken on additional duties.

“They perform their duties in an excellent manner considering the difficulties that are there,” he said.

Cllr Frank Kilbride sought information on a rumour about redundancies being sought in Longford County Council.

In response, Mr Sheridan said there are no plans to seek redundancies. “The Croke Park agreement set out to achieve the savings without seeking redundancies.”