Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Remuneration
54. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the steps being taken to ensure better pay and working conditions for members of the Defence Forces; the further steps being taken to ensure appropriate supports are available to both current and former members of the Defence Forces that may be experiencing financial difficulties; if he has satisfied himself that recruitment methods are sufficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9267/19]
57. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which pay and conditions for the Defence Forces continues to receive appropriate attention with particular reference to ongoing concerns in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9416/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 54, 57 and 78 together.
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 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.
Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.
The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. Increases due from 1 January 2018 and 1 October 2018 have been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel. An increase of 1% was paid to personnel earning up €30,000 per annum from 1 January 2019. Further increases in pay are scheduled for later in 2019 and 2020.
By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement the payscales 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.
New entrants who joined the Defence Forces since 2011, may also benefit from the measures to be applied from 1 March 2019, which will see interventions at points 4 and 8 of the relevant pay scales.
There are many factors and personal circumstances which can give rise to an individual needing support and advice in respect of particular financial difficulties. The Personnel Support Service provides a confidential information, education, support and referral service to Defence Forces personnel and their families, giving access to information and services within and outside the military community.
Like other military organisations, turnover of personnel is higher than that which normally prevails in other sectors. In this context, there is ongoing recruitment and promotion to replace personnel who depart.
The Public Service Pay Commission is currently examining recruitment and retention issues in the Defence sector. This is on foot of an initial submission from the Department of Defence. The Commission's work is on-going. The Government will give due consideration to the findings and recommendations that arise from the work of the Commission.