Dáil Éireann - Volume 507 - 29 June, 1999
Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.
Mr. Perry Mr. Perry
288. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has in place to make arrangements to have extra staff employed in the pensions section to clear the backlog of payment of arrears due to retired teachers; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that over 200 members of the Retired Teachers Association have died without ever receiving their due increases; the steps, if any, to be taken to ensure that payments are released; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16570/99]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): This question is about the arrears of pension due to some retired teachers under Partnership 2000. It is not correct to say that, on 1 April 1998, retired teachers were due an increase of 2.5 per cent under Partnership 2000 – what they were due on 1 April 1998 was the second round of the first phase of Partnership 2000.
The first round of the first phase was paid to all retired teachers in autumn 1997: it amounted to the benefit in pension, with effect from 1 July 1997, of an increase corresponding to an increase of 2.5 per cent of the first £10,436 of annual pay. The second round, due on 1 April 1998, was an increase in pension of the balance due under the first phase. In order to calculate the balance due under the first phase of Partnership 2000, it is first necessary to complete the calculation of how much is due under the PCW agreement.
The PCW Agreement is a complex one and its final elements, those concerning in-school management, were not agreed until early 1998. In  order to cope with implementation of its provisions, including paying pension arrears, my Department has taken on additional staff, both permanent and temporary. The permanent staff involved in pensions has been increased by 70 per cent, from 16 in 1997 to 27 currently. Following agreement with the staff unions, my Department also appointed ten temporary clerical officers to pensions work in June 1998.
The pace of the work of payment has, however, been affected by the fact that normal retirements, which reached a record level in 1997, have continued to occur at the same high level – 50 per cent higher than in 1996. The work has also been delayed by difficulties in replacing temporary staff who have left from time to time. These difficulties have resulted from an agreement made at central level between the Department of Finance and the staff unions regarding the recruitment of temporary staff. Following discussions with the staff unions, I am glad to say that an agreement has now been reached which will facilitate the speedy replacement of temporary staff on an ongoing basis.
The pace of the work of payment was also affected, throughout 1998, by the amount of queries received on a daily basis regarding one of the elements of the PCW agreement – the agreement that the secondary teachers superannuation scheme would become a compulsory scheme and that all secondary teachers would be given the opportunity of purchasing for pensions purposes all periods of service given by them prior to their admission to the scheme. The closing date for applying to purchase service was originally agreed as 31 August 1998 but it was later agreed to extend it to 30 October 1998.
With effect from January 1999, the number of queries received regarding the benefits of the PCW agreement and regarding superannuation generally have been greatly reduced through the issue to all secondary teachers of a comprehensive information booklet, in a question and answer format, on the secondary teachers' superannuation scheme. Similar booklets are being prepared for issue to primary teachers and vocational teachers.
The position at this stage is that all 11,000 retired teachers have received, under Partnership 2000, the benefit in pension of an increase corresponding to an increase of 2.5 per cent of the first £10,436 of annual pay. In addition, all have received, at minimum, an increase of 3 per cent in pension, backdated to 1 July 1998. With regard to outstanding arrears, the position is that a dedicated group of staff are working full-time with a view to making outstanding payments to the retired teachers involved as soon as possible.
Mr. Perry Mr. Perry
289. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science when a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will receive arrears; if payment will be released in view of the fact that she retired on 27 July 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16571/99]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): Partial payment has already been made to the person in question. The outstanding balance will be paid at the end of July 1999.
Dáil Éireann 507 Written Answers. Pension Provisions.