Sunday 25 September 2016

CRC staff 'to get just €7k a year' as pension scheme cut 'face €7,000 per year pension' as scheme cut

Published 24/05/2016 | 02:30

A CRC spokesman said the board had decided to 'discontinue payments into the CRC defined benefit-pension scheme.' Photo: Tony Gavin
A CRC spokesman said the board had decided to 'discontinue payments into the CRC defined benefit-pension scheme.' Photo: Tony Gavin

The Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), which was embroiled in controversy over executive pension top-ups, has confirmed that it is closing down a staff pension fund.

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This move is set to mean that 47 ordinary workers, who still work at the CRC, will lose out on their pension payments.

The CRC hit the headlines in late 2013 and early 2014 when it emerged that some public donations were used to supplement executive pay and pensions.

A statement from the care centre for people and children with disabilities, which has headquarters in Dublin, confirmed it had now closed its staff defined-benefit scheme.

Defined-benefit schemes, apart from those in the public sector, have become increasingly difficult to fund due to low investment returns, the fact they are supposed to guarantee set levels of pension, and because people are living longer.

A CRC spokesman said the board had decided to "discontinue payments into the CRC defined-benefit pension scheme".

The move to close the staff retirement scheme comes after a recent HSE internal audit found that former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely had been receiving a total remuneration package of €242,865 before he retired.

This was made up of a State-funded salary of €106,900, a CRC-funded salary of €116,949 and a separate CRC-funded allowance of just over €19,000.

It also emerged that after stepping down, Mr Kiely received a retirement lump sum of €200,000.

The Public Accounts Committee was told that his pension, when drawn down, would be more than €90,000 a year.

Now a statement from the CRC said the staff pension scheme was not capable of meeting regulatory demands on funding levels.

"Having received comprehensive professional advice that the scheme was not capable of meeting the minimum funding standard, and that the scheme was significantly off track, the board resolved that the CRC was no longer in a position to continue to fund the scheme on an ongoing basis."

Closure

The CRC has 300 employees, with 47 in the defined-benefit pension scheme.

Most staff are not affected by the decision as they are in the public-sector pension scheme.

A staff member affected by the closure said employees were called into a meeting on Friday and told there were 50 current staff, 50 deferred members and 50 retired members. The plan has a deficit of €30m, with assets of €28m. He said pensioners would get preference over available funds.

The huge deficit and the legal priority that has to be given to pensioners would mean that long-serving staff would be left with annual pensions of as little as €7,000 a year, he said.

He and his 46 colleagues did not get a public-sector pension, even though they are subject to Croke Park and Haddington Road pay cuts.

It is understood there are attempts being made to have the 47 CRC staff transferred into the public-sector scheme.

Irish Independent

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