Friday 30 September 2016

Government's response to crisis like a scene from 'Yes Minister'

Published 14/05/2015 | 02:30

Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has continually flunked the thorny issue of introducing a universal pension
Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has continually flunked the thorny issue of introducing a universal pension

If it is reports and recommendations on pensions policy that you want, then there are more than a few to choose from out there.

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And these reports are by the most eminent experts in the field.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did a major study of our various pension arrangements in 2013.

It was the first time the prestigious Paris-based think tank did a specific study on all forms of pension arrangements in a country.

More than two years later, the Government has yet to formally respond to its recommendations, never mind implement them.

So never mind the recommendations in the huge and impressive National Pensions Framework 2010, or the Green Paper on Pensions in 2007.

Bits and pieces of reform have certainly taken place, but often it is a case of two steps forward and three backwards.

The levy on private pensions is a good example of this.

It has taken €2.5bn out of the pension pots of those in the private sector sensible enough to have put something away for their retirement.

Then there is the problem of 900,000 workers with no supplementary pension arrangements in place. These people will have to rely on the State pension.

That pension may be generous now, but with number of people over the age of 65 set to rise by 200,000 by 2021 it will not rise in future, and inflation will erode its value.

Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has continually flunked the thorny issue of introducing a universal pension.

Recommendations to do this have been bounced around for years, with the OECD the latest to recommend it. But the risk of such a pension being seen as just another tax has meant the issue has been kicked into touch, with a committee of civil servants set up to look at it.

If you think that is the sort of thing Sir Humphrey would manoeuvre into place in 'Yes, Minister' you would be right. But then there are no votes in pensions.

Pay "restoration" for public servants seems to be a higher priority.

Irish Independent

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