I propose to take Questions Nos. 10, 26 and 46 together.
I take it the Deputy is referring to the absence of the concept of “supplementary pensions” from the provisions of the single public service pension scheme. The occupational pension scheme terms for post-1 January 2013 new entrants to the public service, including the permanent Defence Force, PDF, are governed by the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012. All first-time new entrants to pensionable public service employment on or after that date are members of the single scheme.
The single scheme is a key structural fiscal reform introduced to help significantly reduce the cost of public service pensions in the long term, while at the same time continuing to provide valuable pension benefits for employees. In the general context of that policy objective, the terms and rules of the single scheme, which are fundamentally different to previous superannuation public service arrangements, make no provision for the concept or award of supplementary pensions for any new entrants joining any public service group from 1 January 2013 onwards. Notwithstanding the distinguishing features of the single scheme, members of the PDF in that scheme retain the minimum pension age of 50 to reflect operational needs, as already applies to new entrant military personnel recruited since April 2004. Importantly, the single scheme also retains "fast accrual" pension terms for groups such as the Defence Forces.
Under the 2012 Act, overall statutory responsibility for the single scheme pension terms and rules rests with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. In that regard, the absence from the single scheme of provision for the concept of supplementary pensions for any new entrants joining any public service group, including the PDF, on or after 1 January 2013, has previously been confirmed by the official side to the Defence Forces representative associations, and the position in that regard has been restated to RACO by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at a recent meeting with that association.
I am also advised that the Public Service Pay Commission considered certain aspects of military superannuation provisions, which were submitted as an influencing factor on military recruitment and-or retention outcomes. The commission’s report on recruitment and retention in the PDF, which was accepted in full by Government in July 2019, considered the concerns expressed by the military representative associations in relation to various aspects of pension scheme provisions for the Defence Forces. The commission made no recommendations advocating any improvements to the pension scheme terms of the PDF. However, the Public Service Pay Commission report recommended a range of measures relating to pay and non-pay aspects that would result in immediate and future benefits for members of the PDF. These projects are currently under way or completed. These include a review of barriers to extended participation in the PDF and, in particular, the possibility of extending or increasing retirement ages for members of the PDF. Phase 1 of this project, the review of mandatory retirement ages for commissioned officers, is nearing completion, while phase 2, the review of contracts of service for enlisted personnel, is commencing. However, while those deliberations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further. This is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and I need to be careful what I say in this regard.