Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (488)

Michael McGrath


488. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding the right of pensioners to representation regarding the future of their pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48939/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Deputy will appreciate that I am unable to comment on issues relating to a particular pension scheme.

My Department has no role in setting the level of pension increases received by members of occupational pension schemes. Pension increases are entirely a matter for the scheme trustees and the sponsoring employer. Matters directly related to the sponsoring employer referred to in the details supplied come under the remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Scheme trustees have a range of duties and responsibilities under trust law, under the Pensions Act 1990, as amended, and under other relevant legislation. The duties of pension scheme trustees include administering the scheme in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and scheme rules as well as ensuring compliance with the requirements that apply to these schemes. Trustees must act in the best financial interest of all scheme members, whether active, deferred or retired, and must serve all beneficiaries of the scheme impartially. If there is a conflict of interest then a person’s duty as a trustee must take precedence over other interests.

Measures were introduced in 2015 to facilitate engagement between the trustees of a pension scheme and groups representing the interests of pensioner and deferred scheme members. Changes to guidance issued by the Pensions Authority require the trustees of a pension scheme to notify groups representing the interest of scheme members of proposals to issue a direction under section 50 of the Pensions Act to restructure scheme benefits. This affords the representative group an opportunity to make a submission to the trustees of a pension scheme in relation to proposals to restructure scheme benefits. These changes facilitate engagement between groups representing the interests of pensioner and deferred scheme members and the trustees of a pension scheme.

Groups representing the interests of pensioners and deferred scheme members have a right to appeal a section 50 direction by the Pensions Authority to the High Court on a point of law.

The Pensions Authority is the regulatory body charged with the supervision of pension schemes and has the necessary powers under statute to investigate the conduct of a pension scheme should it become aware that a scheme is not in compliance with the provisions of the Pensions Act. Where a pension scheme member is of the view that the scheme is not in compliance with legislative requirements he or she may make a formal complaint to the Pensions Authority.

Any questions relating to access to the State's industrial relations machinery are a matter for the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 489 answered with Question No. 479.