Govt must take steps to correct inequities in pensions system – Brendan Smith

– Women have been unfairly treated under system brought in under FG-Lab Govt –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Government to set out a timeframe for addressing the inequalities in the State pension, which are negatively impacting on women.

Fianna Fáil brought forward a private members motion to highlight the issue.  It’s hoping the motion can be used as a roadmap by the Government to create a fairer system.

Deputy Smith explained, “The current pension system puts women at a severe disadvantage.  Anyone who took time out from the workforce for caring and childminding duties is penalised.  The situation was further exacerbated by the disastrous changes introduced by Fine Gael and Labour in 2012.

“Of the 36,000 people affected by these changes, 62% are women. Even the Minister for Finance described this situation as ‘bonkers’ and ‘unbelievable’, whilst Joan Burton the then Tánaiste  and Minister responsible for introducing  the 2012 changes has said she ‘regrets’ them.

“I have been long calling for this disastrous situation to be addressed.  The inequities have resulted in tens of thousands of people losing out on their full pension entitlements – with around 23,000 women impacted.  The Government must begin correcting these anomalies to ensure equal treatment of men and women.

“It’s disappointing that the Government has allowed this issue to continue for so long and it is imperative that it is tackled.  I would like to see Ministers outline a plan which would allow for the anomaly to be addressed on an incremental basis, reflecting the finances available to the State.

“The State has a roll to play to leading the way in ending gender discrimination in this country. It needs to start with this glaringly obvious problem that is affecting so many of our citizens,” concluded Deputy Smith.

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For Written Answer on : 17/10/2017 

Question Number(s): 591 Question Reference(s): 43972/17 

Department: Employment Affairs and Social Protection 

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QUESTION

WRITTEN question for answer on 17/10/2017 : To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to parliamentary question number 1554 of 26 July 2017, her plans to amend the legislation and regulations in relation to eligibility for State pension purposes; if such provisions will be included in the forthcoming Social Welfare Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.

REPLY

Question No: 591 Ref No: 43972/17

To the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to parliamentary question number 1554 of 26 July 2017, her plans to amend the legislation and regulations in relation to eligibility for State pension purposes; if such provisions will be included in the forthcoming Social Welfare Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 17th October, 2017.

R E P L Y

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Regina Doherty T.D.):

Officials in the Department are currently working on the detailed development of the ‘Total Contribution Approach’ (TCA). It is expected that the TCA will replace the yearly average approach for new pensioners from around 2020. The aim of this approach is to make the rate of contributory pension more closely match contributions made by a person. This is a very significant reform with considerable legal, administrative, and technical elements in its implementation, which will take a number of years to complete. An important element in the final design of the scheme will be the position of women who have gaps in their contribution records as a result of caring duties, and this factor is being considered very carefully in developing this reform.

Data from the independent actuarial review of the Social Insurance Fund is currently being analysed to cost options for the new approach. Following that analysis, a paper will be prepared, outlining and costing various alternatives, including, as promised, options regarding homemaker periods. My Department will then conduct a period of consultation with relevant stakeholders, providing them with information and requesting that they outline what they consider should be the priorities in this reform. After the consultation period, I will submit a proposal to Government seeking approval of the new approach. Following a Government decision, legislation will be prepared for consideration by the Oireachtas.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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