I propose to take Questions Nos. 443 and 480 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, Community Employment (CE) supervisors and assistant supervisors have been seeking for several years, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.
It should be noted that CE sponsoring authorities are the legal employers of CE supervisors, CE assistant supervisors and CE participants; the Department’s role continues to be that of CE funder.
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 with input from the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) on the potential costs of providing Exchequer support for the establishment of such a pension scheme for employees across the Community and Voluntary sector in Ireland. This exercise estimated a potential cost to the State of between €188 million per annum and €347m depending on the numbers involved. This excluded any provision for an immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension as sought, which could entail a further Exchequer cost of up to €318 million.
Officials from my Department held a series of meetings with CE supervisor representatives to consider related proposals, mindful of the operating environment in which any potential solution will need to exist.
Related discussions also continued between officials from my Department and their counterparts in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).