I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 63 together.
First, I wish to acknowledge the valuable and dedicated service that Community Employment supervisors provide in running Community Employment Schemes all over the country. We simply could not sustain a lot of our local community services without their work and it is, of course, a concern to me that the Supervisors felt compelled to take the action they took yesterday.
As the Deputy is aware the action taken by Community Employment (CE) scheme arises from a claim for the provision of a pension scheme.
Given the complex issues involved, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform established a high level community sector group as a forum to explore potential approaches. As part of the work of this group it was established that the provision of a pension scheme for CE supervisors and others in the Community and Voluntary sector presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost to the State of up to €347 million p.a. It is important to note that this cost excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension as sought, which could entail a further Exchequer cost of up to €318 million.