Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (229)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

229. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will address a matter regarding a pension increase in relation to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19097/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Under the current pension increase policy agreed as part of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA), pay increases applied to serving staff over the course of the Agreement, including the 1% increase applied to all salaries on 1st October 2018 and the 1% increase applied to salaries up to €30,000 on 1 January 2019, are passed on to those pensions awarded under pre-existing public service schemes where the salary on which the pension is based does not exceed the salary of serving staff with the same grade and scale point, after the pay increase has been applied. If it qualifies, the pension is eligible for an increase to the extent that this will ensure alignment with the pay of serving staff.

Not all pension recipients will be due these increases. This is partly due to protections in place (known as ‘grace periods’) for public servants retiring after the application of pay cuts under the FEMPI legislation, whereby the pensions of those public servants were calculated using the higher pay rates that were in effect prior to the application of the pay cuts. Similarly, the pensions of many of those who retired before the imposition of pay cuts are still based on higher salary rates than the salaries of serving public servants, and so those pensions don’t qualify for pension increases.

The administrative procedures for applying the pension increase policy are not straightforward. They require an examination of the salary on which an individual’s pension is based and the salary of those still serving in the same grade and on the same payscale point after the pay increase is applied, which I am advised is largely a manual process. The grace periods to which I refer above, a valuable protection for the pension entitlements of the public servants concerned, inevitably impose an additional hurdle to be addressed in the identification of qualifying pensions, and the application of due pension increases.

Responsibility for implementing the increases, within the context of the administrative issues I have outlined above, lies with the various public and civil service pension/payroll providers. In the case of the individual whose details have been raised by the Deputy, this is the Payroll Shared Service Centre. I am advised that work is underway, with the assistance of the HR Unit of the individual’s former employing Office, to calculate and pass on all relevant increases to those qualifying pensions in payment, including for the individual in question, and that this will include the calculation and payment of arrears backdated as appropriate.