Exchequer figures published by the Department of Finance show a tax take of €26 billion for the first nine months of the year.

Total spending by the Government up to the end of September was 1% ahead of target. 

Between January and September a little more was paid in income tax and VAT than had been expected.

The corporation tax take was 11% ahead of target and excise duties were behind by nearly 4%.

Spending at the Department of Health over the nine months to September was almost 3% higher than had been expected, with an increase of €254m.

Spending at the Department of Social Protection was also higher, up 3.9%.

17% less was spent at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Overall Government spending - ahead of target by 1% - was made up of an increase in day-to-day spending of 2%, and a fall in capital spending of 13.6%.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the figures highlight the progress being made to restore the public finances to a more sustainable position.

He said all departments have to take necessary measures to deliver services within their 2012 allocations.

Mr Noonan said the Government is on track to meet its budgetary targets for the second year in a row.

He added though that the deficit of €11 billion for the first nine months of the year is too high, and that it will be further reduced in coming years.