I thank the Deputy for his question.
The military authorities have advised me that, as at 30 November 2019, 605 personnel had been inducted into the Defence Forces and ten serving soldiers were awarded a cadetship. At that date, 793 personnel had exited the organisation. They further advised that, as at 30 November 2019, the strength of the Permanent Defence Force whole-time equivalent across all services was 8,751 personnel.
I am very much aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment and I remain committed to restoring the strength of the Defence Forces to 9,500. This will require improved retention and recruitment.
The Government has acknowledged that there are recruitment and retention issues in the Defence Forces that must be addressed. It is a fact that members of the Permanent Defence Force are being attracted to jobs elsewhere in a buoyant labour market. In light of the particular difficulties being faced by the defence sector, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of recruitment and retention issues in the Permanent Defence Force.
The report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces was accepted by Government on 4 July 2019. The report contains a broad range of recommendations which will provide immediate benefits to members of the Permanent Defence Force as well as initiatives that can lead to further improvements. The immediate benefits include a 10% increase in military service allowance, the restoration to pre-Haddington Road levels of certain specific Defence Forces allowances and the return of an incentive scheme to address pilot retention issues in the Air Corps. These measures will cost around €10 million per annum.
The increases in military service allowance and the restoration of the rates of the other allowances as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission are in addition to measures relating to core pay, which are in the current public service stability agreement. The recommended increases in the allowances and any back money due have been paid to officers and enlisted personnel. I welcome the fact that RACO and PDFORRA have accepted these recommendations.
The report contains a range of recommendations aimed at improving work-force planning, recruitment and conditions of service. The report also recommends an examination of pay structures in the Permanent Defence Force-----