I propose to take Questions Nos. 64, 72 and 75 together.
CE scheme supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector that receive public funding. They are not employees of my Department or public servants. There are currently 1,346 supervisors or assistant supervisors employed with CE sponsor organisations. My Department funds wages and training costs in respect of CE participants and supervisors. It does not, and has not, provided provision for funding for CE supervisor pensions.
Employers, including CE sponsoring organisations, are legally obliged to offer access to at least one standard personal retirement savings account, PRSA, under the Pension (Amendment) Act 2002. I am sure the Deputy is well aware of that. On foot of the Labour Court recommendation, the issue of CE supervisor pensions is currently being examined by a community sector high-level forum, which is chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. A number of Departments, including mine, are represented on this group, as are the unions and Pobal.
A detailed scoping exercise was carried out with input from the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service, IGEES, on the costs of providing Exchequer support for the establishment of such a pension scheme for employees across the community and voluntary sector. The exercise clearly illustrated that this matter presents significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost to the State of €188 million per annum in respect of funding to enable an employer pension contribution in State-funded community and voluntary organisations, excluding any provision for immediate ex gratia lump sum payment of pension as sought, which could, depending on the size of the sector, entail a further Exchequer cost of up to €318 million.
I am very conscious that while the issue relates to CE supervisors and assistant supervisors, such individuals comprise just one small group within the wider community and voluntary sector. Any provision of State funding for such a scheme in respect of those employees could potentially give rise to claims for similar schemes on the part of those in the broader sector, thus crystallising the level of liability. Any solution to this issue will require careful consideration, in particular the implications for scarce Exchequer resources.