Pen­sion anom­alies to drag on un­til 2020

Irish Examiner - - News - Elaine Lough­lin Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter

Around 42,000 peo­ple will have to wait un­til 2020 to have anom­alies in their pen­sions ad­dressed, the Taoiseach has con­firmed.

Leo Varad­kar told the Dáil the Gov­ern­ment will not be im­me­di­ately ad­dress­ing pen­sion in­equal­i­ties, which mean peo­ple are los­ing as much as €1,500 a year.

So­cial Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Regina Do­herty was forced into a U-turn on her “guar­an­tee” to deal with the anom­aly.

Tens of thou­sands of women who were im­pacted by the mar­riage bar, or who took time out of work to care for chil­dren, sick or el­derly rel­a­tives are now be­ing pe­nalised as much as €35 each week as their PRSI con­tri­bu­tions are av­er­aged out from when they first be­gan work­ing when cal­cu­lat­ing the con­trib­u­tory pen­sion.

Last week, Ms Do­herty clearly sig­nalled she would bring a mem­o­ran­dum to the Cab­i­net on the is­sue.

How­ever, Mr Var adk ar said it would take a “num­ber of weeks” be­fore any plans are even costed. He in­di­cated it would be 2020 be­fore a new pen­sion cal­cu­la­tion sys­tem is im­ple­mented.

“Un­der the to­tal con­tri­bu­tions ap­proach, it will not mat­ter when a per­son made their con­tri­bu­tions. Gaps will not mat­ter,” he said. “What will mat­ter is the num­ber of con­tri­bu­tions made over the pe­riod of some­one’s work­ing life, over the 50 years be­tween the ages of 16 and 66. There will be gen­er­ous pro­vi­sion to dis­re­gard pe­ri­ods of home car­ing.”

In­de­pen­dent Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae in­ter­rupted to say “many a woman will be dead” be­fore the to­tal con­tri­bu­tions sys­tem is in­tro­duced in 2020.

While the Taoiseach said Gov­ern­ment is ex­am­in­ing some in­terim mea­sures, they will not be in­tro­duced as part of Bud­get 2018 as cost­ings have yet to be done. He said cost­ings may not be com­pleted for “quite some time”.

Sep­a­rately, In­de­pen­dent Tip­per­ary TD Michael Lowry raised con­cerns around the Strate­gic Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion of Ire­land, claim­ing there is “un­ease about the trans­parency of the scheme”.

“There is a strongly held view in fi­nan­cial lend­ing cir­cles of favouritism to­wards the pil­lar banks and that the con­di­tions of el­i­gi­bil­ity to the fund are struc­tured in order to suit the big es­tab­lished play­ers in the mar­ket — a view that the ex­ist­ing terms and con­di­tions and for­mat are an­ti­com­pet­i­tive and have a detri­men­tal im­pact on those lenders which can­not reach the un­re­al­is­tic and un­ob­tain­able cri­te­ria set out in the scheme,” said Mr Lowry.

Mr Varad­kar said he would dis­cuss mat­ters raised by Mr Lowry with Min­is­ter for Fi­nance Paschal Dono­hoe be­cause he said it is “es­sen­tial that any pub­lic body should op­er­ate solely within the leg­is­la­tion passed by this House to pro­vide for it”.

“The Strate­gic Bank Cor­po­ra­tion of Ire­land has a man­date to de­liver ac­cess to fi­nance for Ir­ish en­ter­prises, par­tic­u­larly SMEs, to cor­rect fail­ures in the Ir­ish credit mar­ket while en­cour­ag­ing com­pe­ti­tion,” said Mr Varad­kar.

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