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Minister outlines DoI savings 8 October 2010

Infrastructure Minister, Phil Gawne has been explaining how his Department has been endeavouring to save money and become more efficient this year. Substantial savings are being delivered across the Department with all aspects of the Department’s work contributing to the savings. Mr Gawne explained

‘inevitably when this level of savings are introduced there will be some reduction in the level of service we can offer, however, this has as far as possible been kept to a minimum. I am particularly pleased at the responsible approach taken by our workforce and their union representatives who recognise the need for us to work together for the best interests of the public we serve. Inevitably we don’t always agree on the way forward but I am committed to ensuring that there is a fair distribution of savings from our manual workers, middle and senior management.’

Mr Gawne detailed the savings as follows:

‘Employment costs account for 40% of the expenditure of the Department of infrastructure which currently employs 731 fte’s (full time equivalents). In the past year and a half senior managers have worked with staff and their unions to improve productivity while maintaining the extent and quality of the Department’s service delivery. Overtime in the old Department of Transport was reduced by 11.7% in the financial year 2009-10 and the new Department of Infrastructure has a further reduction of 1.1% in the current year to date. This is equivalent to a saving of approximately £400k over the period. Approximately 13 vacancies have been generated during the year in the Department through reorganisation and careful consideration of the need to replace vacant positions as they arise.’
‘Savings across the Airport budget over the first 6 months of 2010-11, have principally been in staff costs, to the value of £157,000. These savings have been due to planned deliberate late recruitment and negotiating more effective overtime levels for guaranteed out of hours work. Harbours Division have conducted a review of management structure from which they have achieved a reduction of one senior management post worth in excess of £50,000 per annum. They have also contributed to the overall Department saving in overtime by reducing overtime worked by an average of 20%. The above savings have to some extent been offset by settlement of local pay negotiations but they are important in that they release funding to meet the growing costs of essential service provision.’
‘The Highways improvement scheme budget which is predominantly used to increase the safe use of our roads and to ease congestion has been reduced by £700k per annum. This allows us to attend to critical issues but we have to defer those improvements which remain desirable but not essential. Expenditure on external design consultants is being reduced by £50k per annum and cyclical highway maintenance, which includes grass cutting, railway fencing, tree lopping, gully emptying and hedge cutting among other things has been reduced by £200k per annum. We have reduced expenditure on maintenance of public rights of way by £50k per annum. We have also identified opportunities for increased cost efficiency in traffic signal maintenance, street cleaning, the inspection of estate roads, public safety campaigns, and overseas travel. Combined savings from the above therefore amount to £1,050 k.'
‘The Department budget for energy consumption in 2010-11 has remained unchanged at £1.6m from the previous year. This is being achieved despite an average 7% increase in energy related cost inflation. Carbon emissions are regularly measured and are also 7% down on last year.’
‘I have regularly been asked when is your Department going to start making savings and I hope I have now explained that we started several months ago and we are making significant progress in reducing our expenditure without threatening the long term viability of the services we provide and indeed the economy we support.’

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