We can look at many people joining the Defence Forces whose parents were previously in the service, so there are also many people absolutely recommending a career there. We need to focus on ensuring balance in the discussion.
The survey to which the Deputy refers highlighted that pay in the private sector is one of a number of reasons some personnel leave the Defence Forces. There are, however, many reasons individuals may leave the Defence Forces, ranging from individual personal circumstances, other career opportunities, having fulfilled their contract or retirement on age grounds. A career in the Defence Forces offers personnel significant opportunities, including education and training opportunities.
Pay has been highlighted as an issue but there has been significant progress in recent years. The Defence Forces received pay increases in line with the public service stability agreement, the most recent of which was a 2% increase on annualised salaries from 1 October 2020. The restoration of the 5% cut in allowances imposed under the financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, legislation, was also restored from 1 October 2020.
In addition to the general round of pay increases awarded to public servants, members of the Permanent Defence Force have also benefited from the implementation of increases in Defence Forces allowances as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission. These included a 10% increase in military service allowance, the restoration of a 10% cut applied to a number of Defence Forces allowances under the Haddington Road pay agreement, the restoration of premium rates for weekend security duty allowances and the restoration of a service commitment scheme for pilots.
The introduction of a new seagoing service commitment scheme for Naval Service personnel came into effect from 1 January 2021 and is aimed at retaining highly trained and experienced personnel and incentivising seagoing duties.
A seagoing naval personnel tax credit of €1,270 was applied in the 2020 tax year for members of the Naval Service who served 80 days or more at sea on board a naval vessel in 2019. This tax credit has been extended for a further year and is increased to €1,500 for the 2021 tax year.
The point I make is that, yes, we have pay and allowance issues, but we are trying to improve income and allowances across the Defence Forces all the time. I have just given many examples of that.