Business Pensions

Friday 21 July 2017

Actuaries trying to undermine State pension - ICTU

The two bodies got actuaries Milliman to look at the State pension. The Milliman report concluded that the current system is unsustainable. Photo: PA
The two bodies got actuaries Milliman to look at the State pension. The Milliman report concluded that the current system is unsustainable. Photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

THE largest trade union body in the country has delivered a stinging criticism of actuaries who have advocated cutting the State pension to make it more sustainable.

The broadside from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions comes ahead of a conference hosted by the Society of Actuaries on the sustainability of the State pension.

ICTU's Fergus Whelan has dismissed as "distasteful" the views of what he said were a well-pensioned select few questioning the level of the payment.

He was responding to a report commissioned by the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and Publicpolicy.ie, a think tank funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.

The two bodies got actuaries Milliman to look at the State pension. The Milliman report concluded that the current system is unsustainable.

It recommended cutting the weekly pension payment, or reducing future increases, or restricting who qualifies for it, or further increasing the pension age beyond 68.

The Milliman report is due to be discussed at a major conference on the future of the State pension organised by the Society of Actuaries in Dublin today.

But Mr Whelan, who is the pensions expert in the ICTU, dismissed the report's conclusions as "propaganda rather than insightful analysis".

He accused the two bodies that commissioned the report of launching an offensive against decent public pensions.

"They clearly have an ideological preference for private pension provision (where actuaries have a lucrative role) over public provision (where they have little or no role)."

ICTU, which has 55 unions affiliated to it and represents 800,000 workers, wrote: "There is something distasteful when a well-pensioned, self-selected few, commission and then welcome a report that suggests that Ireland cannot sustain a moderately decent pension for its less well-off citizens going forward."

The State pension was an important tool to eliminate old-age poverty. Mr Whelan questioned the population growth assumptions used by Milliman.

Actuaries, it was claimed, were cheerleaders for the raising of the State pension age to 68, a move that is set to cost private sector workers up to €36,000 each.

Mr Whelan accused actuaries of getting it "spectacularly wrong" when giving advice on defined benefit pensions, half of which have closed during the past eight years.

The Society of Actuaries said its aim was to stimulate debate around the future of the State pension.

"The view of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland is that the Milliman report adds to the growing body of research that highlights the unsustainability of the State pension system and leads to the conclusion that 'doing nothing' is not an option."

Irish Independent

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