Wednesday 22 January 2020

TH€ PUNT: Debts prompt pension rethink

IS the Government being too paternalistic when it comes to people being allowed early access to some of the money in their pension funds?

The issue prompted a huge reaction from listeners when it was discussed yesterday on 'Today With Pat Kenny' on RTE Radio.

Senator Feargal Quinn is the latest to take up arms on behalf of those who are heavily indebted but cannot get access to money they have tied up in a retirement scheme.

He spoke in the Seanad recently, citing examples from South Africa, Denmark and Australia where people can get early access to money in a pension fund.

The Irish Brokers Association and the Professional Insurance Brokers Association are also in favour of a limited scheme that would let those in big trouble get some of the money in schemes.

All agree that limits and restrictions could be put in place to stop all the money that has been put aside for the golden years being siphoned off.

The big fear is that banks that are owed money would end up making a big claim on any funds freed up from a pension.

But the Government has set its face against any form of early pensions access.

Maybe it is time for those well-pensioned Cabinet ministers to have a rethink.

Greencore on right track

IF you are in the UK and you get a little bit peckish, you might wander into Marks & Spencer and pick up a ready-made sandwich.

If that isn't enough, there is a good chance you will buy one of those ready made desserts that M&S seem to specialise in.

If you do, then you'll be handing a few quid to a business that was once the quintessential Irish company but is now British in nearly every major characteristic.

It's a long way from being the Irish state sugar company but Greencore has now turned itself into a ready meals behemoth, the biggest in Britain, and is expanding into the US.

Patrick Coveney has taken his fair share of criticism in his five years as chief executive – the failed Northern Foods merger being charge number one – but for now the company seems to be on the right track. The only worry for now is that Greencore has 95pc of its eggs in one basket and is relying on the UK consumer at a time of huge economic problems there.

Mr Coveney isn't concerned by that, however, even if Chancellor George Osborne is promising a brutal Autumn Statement next week. For Greencore's sake, let's hope his confidence isn't misplaced.

Irish Independent

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