Friday 24 January 2020

'It's demeaning 30,000 pensioners will end up on dole this year'

Concern: Jerry Moriarty. Photo: Andres Poveda
Concern: Jerry Moriarty. Photo: Andres Poveda
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Changes to the pensions regime that have left thousands of older people on the dole have been criticised as "demeaning".

Many of the roughly 30,000 workers retiring this year will be forced to wait two years for their State pensions. This will mean many will have to claim the dole until 2022.

This is because the qualifying age for the State pension rises to 67 in January 2021, and to 68 in 2028.

To counter this, reduced pension payments should be made on an interim basis, according to the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF).

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Figures in this publication last week show the number of over-65s on the dole has trebled since the Government made them wait an extra year for the pension. There are now 5,263 on Jobseeker's Allowance, which is €45 a week lower than the State pension.

Chief executive of the IAPF Jerry Moriarty said the situation was "highly concerning and demeaning" for Ireland's older population.

"The fact that our Government expects the 30,000 people who will turn 65 in 2020 to sign up for Jobseeker's Allowance for two years is nothing short of an insult," he said.

"A group who will have contributed to both the Irish tax take and the Irish economy for over 40 years should not have to face this prospect after a lifetime of work."

The boss of the pension-saver body called on the Government to consider the payment of a reduced pension for retirees who need or want to retire before the new State pension age.

"We are also advocating for some form of staged phasing in of the changes, to avoid the cliff edge, and to ensure that these pensioners do not lose out on a full year's pension."

A spokesperson for Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said the reason for the changes was to make the State pension system more sustainable as life expectancy increased.

Demographic change meant that the future costs of the State's pension provision are increasing by approximately €1bn every four to five years, the spokesperson added.

Irish Independent

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