Thursday 19 September 2019

Over 55,000 pensioners to get hike in payments

(stock picture)
(stock picture)

Anne-Marie Walsh

OVER 55,000 state pensioners are set to get a hike in their payments in the wake of a “bonkers” budget cut early next year.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty confirmed that her department has written to 79,000 people affected by cuts that had a major impact on women who opted out of the workforce.

Around 8,000 individuals living outside the state will receive letters next week.

She said about 70pc of these people will get increases and she expects the payments to have been made by the end of March next year.

Changes to how pension entitlements were calculated in 2012 particularly impacted on women who opted out of work to raise their families.

Last year, the cuts were described as bonkers by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe when tackled by a caller on an RTE radio show the day after the budget.

The government has since offered these 79,000 pensioners a new way of assessing their pensions, known as a total contributions approach.

“It’s  in and around 70pc it may be a little more or a little less,” she said, when asked how many of those affected will get increases.

“We’ll do that (assessments) over the course of the couple of weeks after Christmas and we’re employing some new people so that it won’t be a lengthy process and hope to have it completed by the end of quarter one, with payments made, backdated, and everyone on their new payment.”

However, she said there are no figures available on what the average payment will be.


She also said new legislation to help workers on precarious contracts is likely to come into effect from early next year.


“What it will mean is that people who are on precarious contracts, who don't know from one week to the next whether they’re going to be called in or not called in or if they are called in, sent home with no money, all of that will change.”


She said workers will be put on a “band of hours” that reflects what they actually worked over the previous 12 months to give them consistency in their weekly hours.


If they are not called into work, they will have to be paid three hours compensation for not being given the work.


“I’m told its groundbreaking,” she said. “It’s certainly a long time in  the making. There are far too many people waiting for it.”


She said there is also a need for more inspections by labour inspectors to tackled bogus self employment following 1,000 inspections last August.

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