Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (185)

Richard Boyd Barrett


185. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the 1984 Civil Service superannuation scheme constitutes discriminatory treatment for disabled civil servants according to the 2002 Institute of Public Administration report (details supplied); if consideration will be given to refunding contributions to officers who retire single; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35085/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Civil Service Spouses’ and Children’s Contributory Pension Scheme provides pensions to the spouse and children of members who die in service, or after they have qualified for pension (or preserved pension). Membership of the Scheme was made compulsory for male established civil servants appointed on or after 1 January 1969 and for female established civil servants appointed on or after 1 June 1981. Officers serving prior to the relevant dates were given options to join.

Following discussions with staff interests, a ‘revised’ scheme was introduced in 1984 which provides for a wider range of beneficiaries than under the 'original' scheme. In order to meet the additional costs of the wider definition of beneficiaries, the contribution refund arrangements were made more restrictive than in the original scheme. The revised scheme was made compulsory for all civil servants joining after 1 September 1984, while serving staff, including those who were members of the original scheme, had the option to join.

Regarding the Spouses’ and Children’s Schemes contribution arrangements, I am in agreement with the Commission on Public Service Pensions, which found in its Final Report (2000) that the schemes are structured on a group insurance basis and that member contribution rates take account of the fact that payment of benefits will not arise in respect of all members; accordingly, the Commission did not recommend any change in the refund arrangements for membership contributions.

I have no proposals to amend the revised scheme rules to provide for a refund of contributions where a member is single on retirement, including in the context raised by the Deputy. I am satisfied that the Revised Civil Service Spouses' and Children's Contributory Pension Scheme meets the requirements of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2015 in relation to all of the grounds of discrimination set out in the legislation, including on grounds of disability.