I propose to take Questions Nos. 61, 67 and 82 together.
Similar to other sectors in the public service, the pay of PDF personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising national finances during the financial crisis.
Improvements within the economy have provided an opportunity for the unwinding of the financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, legislation, which imposed pay cuts across the public service.
Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. These increases are weighted in favour of those on lower pay.
The increases due to date under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 have been paid to members of the Defence Forces, the most recent being a 1.75% increase in annualised salaries from the 1 September last. On 1 January 2020, annualised salaries up to €32,000 will increase by 0.5%. On 1 October, annualised salaries will increase by 2%.
By the end of the current public service pay agreement, the pay scales of all public servants earning less than €70,000 per annum, including members of the Defence Forces, will be restored to pre-FEMPI levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction in allowances under FEMPI is also scheduled in the agreement.
Basic pay and military service allowance is just part of the overall remuneration package available for members of the PDF. A range of duties attract additional allowances.
At my direction, the Department of Defence brought the particular difficulties in recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Service Pay Commission. Arising from the first report of the commission in 2017 and the subsequent public service stability agreement, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with undertaking a comprehensive examination and analysis of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces.
The report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces was accepted by the Government on 4 July 2019. The report contains a broad range of recommendations, which will provide immediate benefits to members of the Permanent Defence Force as well as initiatives that can lead to further improvements. The immediate benefits include a 10% increase in the military service allowance, the restoration of certain Defence Forces allowances to pre-Haddington Road agreement levels and the return of an incentive scheme to address pilot retention issues in the Air Corps. These measures will cost approximately €10 million per annum. The increases in the military service allowance and the restoration of the rates of the other allowances, as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission, are in addition to measures relating to core pay which are in the current public service stability agreement.