Question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D.)
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection now that details of effect of the windup of Permanent TSB Pension scheme on individual pension entitlements have been published, if she will consider taking further steps to protect entitlements of individual members of pension schemes which are being wound up; if she will consider making retrospective protection measures which she introduced for pension schemes which are wound up on or after December 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 13th November, 2014.
I am very conscious of the funding difficulties encountered by many pension schemes in recent years. You will be aware that a range of legislative measures have been put in place over a number of years to assist both employers and trustees of pension schemes to respond to these difficulties and to achieve a sustainable pension provision for all scheme members and beneficiaries.
Section 48 of the Pensions Act sets out the order (wind up priority order) in which the assets of a defined benefits pension scheme are distributed in the event of the wind up of a scheme. The wind up priority order was amended by the Social Welfare and Pensions (No.2) Act in 2013. Prior to these changes pensioner benefits were given priority over the benefits of active and deferred scheme members. The recent changes to the wind up priority order essentially de-prioritises a portion of pensioner benefits in the manner in which the resource of a scheme are distributed on the windup of a pension scheme. These changes make more resources of the scheme available in the initial distribution of assets to active and deferred scheme members. The impact of these changes will be determined by the level of funding in a pension scheme at the time of the wind up.
The matter of the date from which the provisions in the Social Welfare Pensions (No.2) Act would apply was considered in preparing the legislation. However, based on advice received, the revised provisions can only apply to defined benefits pension schemes which have commenced wind up after the legislation has been enacted.
You will appreciate that it is not appropriate for me to comment on issues relating to a particular pension scheme as these are a matter for the companies involved and the trustees of the pension scheme.