Thursday 21 September 2017

Major opposition over plans to raise pension age to 70

Willie O'Dea TD Photo: Tom Burke
Willie O'Dea TD Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Proposals to raise the State pension age to 70 have been roundly rejected by a range of groups.

Delaying the payment of the State contributory pension until people reach 70 would counteract the surge in the numbers of older people and the projected fall in the numbers of workers over the next few years.

A study by the State-supported Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) suggests that pushing out the age for paying the State pension would be the easier way to deal with the budgetary challenge.

But the proposal from the think tank has been dismissed as unfair by Age Action, Siptu and Fianna Fáil.

Head of advocacy at Age Action Justin Moran dismissed the proposal.

"Workers are already facing a rapidly increasing pension age, they're already making sacrifices. It's wrong to make them wait - especially those working in physically demanding roles - an additional two years for their pension."

He added that the pension age is already due to rise to 68 and that's one of the fastest increases in Europe, despite a relatively young population compared to our neighbours.

In the last few years, the age when the State pension is paid has increased to 66. It is due to go to 67 for those retiring in 2021, and 68 by 2028.

Mr Moran called for tax breaks for those investing in a pension to be diverted to bolster the State pension.

Siptu divisional organiser Paul Bell said the proposal on the State pension was generating huge resentment among members of his union.

He said he represents health workers, many of whom are engaged in physical labour. People would not be able to stay in the workforce so long, he said.

Mr Bell described the proposal as "absolutely ridiculous" and unworkable.

He called for a mandatory pension for those in the private sector, to supplement the State pension.

Mr Bell claimed that employers were shirking their responsibility to almost one million workers who have no occupational pension.

Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea, the party's spokesman on social protection, said the suggestion was questionable. "I find the proposal bizarre, quite frankly."

He said that if academics in the ESRI had studied what was involved in carrying out many jobs, they would have hesitated to recommend raising the State pension age.

Jerry Moriarty of the Irish Association of Pension Funds said people were living longer but it was not always physically possible for them to work longer.

Irish Independent

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