Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ceisteanna (408)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

408. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of State agencies and public bodies that have been merged or abolished in each year since 2011, under the remit of her Department; the annual savings associated with each body; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21798/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Authority, and the Social Welfare Tribunal.

None of the bodies under the aegis of the Department have been merged, or abolished since 2011. The Pensions Board was renamed the Pensions Authority on 7 March 2014.

The Public Service Reform Programme provided for a critical review of the integration of the regulatory functions of the Pensions Board with the Financial Regulator and the merging of the Pensions Ombudsman with the Financial Services Ombudsman. The recommendations arising out of the Critical Review on the Pensions Board were approved by Government in April 2013 and were provided for in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act, 2013.

It was recommended that the governance structure of the Pensions Board be restructured with two distinct arms as follows:

- Oversight of the Pensions Board will be undertaken by a three person body called the Pensions Authority. The board of the Pensions Authority will consist of a Chairperson and two officials from the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Finance. The change from the 17 person Pensions Board to the Pensions Authority has realised savings of approx. €100,000.

- Under the strengthened arrangements, the Pensions Board was renamed the Pensions Authority to better reflect its key role of safeguarding the pensions of occupational pension scheme members and also the provision of information on occupational pensions.

- A separate unpaid Pensions Council will be established to advise the Department on matters of pension’s policy which will strengthen governance of occupational pensions and give consumers greater input into pensions policy.

In relation to the Pensions Ombudsman, the Report recommended that this office be merged with the Financial Service Ombudsman and arrangements in relation to the implementation of this recommendation are under consideration.