I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 4 together.
Although I note that Deputy Harty is not present currently, I will answer his question. Similar to other sectors in the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising the national finances during the financial crisis. Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the agreement, with the focus of these increases weighted in favour of those on lower pay. The increases due from 1 January 2018, 1 October 2018 and 1 January 2019 have been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel. Further increases are scheduled for 2019 and 2020. By the end of the current public service pay agreement, the payscales of all public servants, including members of the Defence Forces, earning under €70,000 per annum will be restored to pre-FEMPI levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled as part of that agreement.
New entrants who joined the Defence Forces since 2011 can also benefit from the measures that were recently announced in respect of interventions at points 4 and 8 of the relevant payscales for all such new entrants to the public service. This measure, should it be accepted by the Permanent Defence Force representative associations, will be effective from 1 March 2019.
In accordance with the provisions of Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the Government has tasked the PSPC with conducting a more comprehensive examination of specific recruitment and retention challenges in the defence sector. The PSPC requested specific data and statistics to assist in its analysis. This material was collated and prepared by civil and military personnel with inputs from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. That Department co-ordinates the public service management response to the commission and it sent the Defence Forces material to it on 20 December 2018. The Department of Defence will continue to engage with the PSPC and respond to any specific query or follow-up request for information. It will also continue to work closely with the Defence Forces in this regard.
The Deputy may wish to note that, arising from such requests, there has been direct engagement between the Defence Forces and the commission to facilitate the surveying of Defence Forces personnel. Should the PSPC wish to meet the defence management team, this would include civil and military representatives. I understand that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform would also be represented.
The commission's work is ongoing and the Government will give due consideration to the findings and any recommendation that arise from that work.