Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (599)

Dara Calleary


599. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position on pension claims by community employment scheme supervisors; the number of times the community employment departmental forum has met since January 2018; if her attention has been drawn to the Dáil Éireann motion of April 2018 supporting the claims of community employment scheme supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

CE supervisors and assistant supervisors made a claim, through their union representatives, for the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme. Although this issue relates to CE supervisors and assistant supervisors, such individuals comprise just one small group within the wider community and voluntary sector.

I would like to clarify that CE supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector that receive state funding. They are not employees of my Department or public servants, and as such were not subject to pay reductions, pension contributions or the Pension-related Deduction (PRD) under the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI), which only applied to public servants. Supervisors pay a PRSI Class 'A' contribution towards the state contributory pension. This pension has a maximum personal rate payable of €12,695 per annum increasing to €12,956 in March.

While 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.

The motion called for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to meet with unions with a view to addressing the issue of CE supervisors’ pension provision. The issue was examined by a Community Sector High-Level Forum, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. A number of Departments including my own Department were represented on this group, as were the unions and Pobal.

A detailed scoping exercise was carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications of providing such a pension scheme. A meeting of the Forum took place on Thursday, 23 November 2017, where the findings of this exercise were shared with members of the Forum. A follow-up meeting to deal with technical questions arising from the exercise took place on Friday, 15 December 2017.

This scoping exercise clearly highlighted that the provision of any such pension scheme presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost to the State of between €188 million per annum and €347 million depending on the size of the sector, which is difficult to ascertain.

It is important to note that this cost excludes 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.

It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not for the State to provide funding for such pension scheme provision. These employees are, or were, employees of private companies notwithstanding the fact that the companies concerned are, or were, in receipt of State funding.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.