I have heard that language before from another party.
The Public Service Pay Commission, PSPC, report on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force, PDF, was accepted in full by Government. A comprehensive implementation plan entitled, Strengthening our Defence Forces - Phase One, was also published by Government.
The PSPC report recommended a range of measures that will result in immediate and future benefits for members of the PDF. The measures include: a 10% increase in military service allowance; the restoration to pre-Haddington Road levels of certain specific Defence Forces allowances; the restoration of premium rates for certain weekend duties; and the restoration of a service commitment scheme for Air Corps pilots.
These measures are currently being implemented following their acceptance by the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, and the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association, PDFORRA, which is welcomed. These measures, which will cost €10 million per annum, are in addition to increases in pay which members of the PDF are receiving under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the most recent being a 1.75% increase in annualised salaries from 1 September 2019.
The Government's plan also provides for further measures in the short, medium and longer term. It sets out timelines to deliver on the PSPC recommendations. This work, under my direction, is being prioritised by civil and military management and includes a review of pay structures in the PDF, led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the identification of pay-related retention measures, which is within my remit. Both of these measures will be progressed within the framework of the public service stability agreement and future public sector pay negotiations. A range of other pay and non-pay related actions are also being progressed.
Of the ten projects being led by my Department, civil and military, eight are up and running and are broadly on track.
These projects include a review of technical pay, which will affect enlisted personnel who are specialists. The review is well advanced, with an initial priority focus on technical specialists in the Air Corps, Naval Service and Communications and Information Services, CIS, Corps.
Options for incentivising longer service for certain non-commissioned officer, NCO, and officer ranks, in particular those with specialist skills undergoing a significant loss of experience, are being developed and this will feed into future pay negotiations.
There is also a range of non-pay projects, on which work is under way or due to commence. These include a review of recruitment methods, enhanced workforce planning, enhanced professional military education, bespoke leadership training, development of a mental health and well-being strategy, a review of barriers to extended participation in the PDF, the development of further non-pay retention measures and consideration of the provision of additional specialist posts in certain areas.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
I am confident that all of the measures contained in the plan, coupled with pay benefits being delivered by the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, will address the recruitment and retention challenges being experienced by the PDF.
However, it should be noted that as the Government's plan contains short, medium and long term measures, the full impact of these measures will take time to determine. There are also a range of external variables which impact on recruitment and retention, and which can change.
The capacity of the Defence Forces to undertake the tasks assigned by Government will continue to be carefully monitored having regard to the implementation of the recommendations of the pay commission and other actions which are under way.