Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Expenditure
91. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which the increase in the budget for his Department will be allocated; if this increase will deal with the working conditions and poor pay of members of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48392/18]
The total allocation for the Defence Sector in 2019 is €994 million, an increase of €47.5 million on the 2018 provision. This allocation emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capabilities necessary to deliver on all the roles assigned by Government.
The Defence Vote has been increased by €37.5 million to €745 million. Capital funding has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper.
The 2019 pay allocation of €515.6 m has increased by €6.3 million to meet the costs of Public Sector Stability Agreement 2018-2020commitments arising in 2019. An additional €2.2 million has been provided to meet essential and ongoing Defence Forces standing and operational costs such as utilities, fuel, catering, maintenance, information technology and training.
An additional €10 million has been allocated to meet the retirement costs of ex members of the Permanent Defence Force and certain dependants, bringing the total allocation for the Army Pensions Vote for 2019 to €249 million.
Similar to other sectors in the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising the national finances during the financial crisis. The recovery in the economy has provided the fiscal resources to provide for a fair and sustainable recovery in public service pay scales.
Members of the Permanent Defence Force have received pay increases due under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. In addition in 2017, following negotiations with PDFORRA improved pay scales for general service recruits and privates, who joined the Permanent Defence Force post 1 January 2013, were implemented.
The Public Sector Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. The increases due under the Agreement from 1 January 2018 and 1 October 2018 have been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel. Further increases in pay are scheduled in 2019 and 2020.
New entrants to the Defence Forces will also benefit from the measures which were recently announced in relation to amendments to the pay scales for new entrant public servants recruited since January 2011.
By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement, the pay of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum, will be restored to pre FEMPI levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled in the agreement.
In accordance with the provisions of Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the Government has tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with conducting a more comprehensive examination of the specific recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Forces, which the Commission identified in Chapter 6 of its report in May 2017. The Commission's work is on-going and my Department will continue to engage throughout the process.