I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 to 139, inclusive, together.
This issue relates to a claim by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.
The matter was the subject of extensive discussion at the Community Sector High Level Forum which was reconvened to examine certain issues pertaining to the Community Employment sector and in particular to ensure that the matter was fully examined having regard to both costs and precedent in the context of the wider Community and Voluntary sector. The membership of this Forum includes public service management and union representatives.
The implications arising from this claim extend well beyond the CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors cadre and could have impacts across the entire Community and Voluntary sector (which may employ over 100,000 people). While CE supervisors and assistant supervisors represent only a very small part of the wider community and voluntary sector, any explicit provision of State funding for such a scheme in respect of those employees would inevitably give rise to claims for similar schemes and funding provision on the part of those many thousands of workers in the broader sector. Accordingly there has to be regard to the full potential Exchequer exposure associated with setting such a precedent.
With this in mind, a detailed scoping exercise was carried out by my Department in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications of the issues involved.
The scoping exercise found that this matter presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost exposure for the State of between €188m and €347m per annum (depending on the exact size of the sector which is difficult to ascertain) were consequential demands to be made to fund employer pension contributions for all similar State funded Community and Voluntary organisations whose employees are in a similar position to the Community Employment scheme supervisors. This excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension for those imminently retiring, as sought, which could, depending on the size of the sector, give rise to a further Exchequer cost exposure of up to €318m.
It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and accordingly it is not for the State to provide funding for occupational pension scheme provision.