Written Answers. - Pension Arrears.

John Bruton

Question:

961 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the delay in implementing the retired teachers' pension adjustments; if he will take steps to speed up the processing of this once-off situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1481/99]

Arrears of pension are due to some retired teachers in accordance with the terms of the PCW agreement and Partnership 2000. In order to calculate how much is due under Partnership 2000, it is first necessary to complete the calculation of how much is due under the PCW agreement. The PCW agreement is a complex one and in order to cope with implementation of its provisions, including paying pension arrears, my Department has taken on additional staff, both permanent and temporary.

The pace of the work of payment has, however, been affected by the fact that normal retirements, which reached a record level in 1997, have continued to occur at the same high level – almost 50 per cent higher than in 1996. The work has also been delayed by the amount of queries which are received on a daily basis regarding the benefits of the PCW agreement and regarding superannuation generally. The position at this stage is that all retired teachers have received, at minimum, an increase of 3 per cent in pension, backdated to 1 July 1998. With regard to outstanding arrears, the position is that a dedicated group of staff are working full time with a view to making outstanding payments to the retired teachers involved as soon as possible.

I should add that, with a view to reducing the number of queries received and thereby enabling staff to concentrate on payments, my Department has recently supplied secondary teachers with a comprehensive information booklet, in a question and answer format, on the secondary teachers' superannuation scheme. Similar booklets are being prepared for issue to primary teachers and vocational teachers.