Thursday 14 December 2017

Fatcats? We get a raw deal, say public sector pensioners

Pensioners are awaiting a meeting with Brendan Howlin
Pensioners are awaiting a meeting with Brendan Howlin

Anne-Marie Walsh

A group representing 75,000 public service pensioners have insisted they are not fatcats and just a small fraction are paid over €100,000 a year.

The Alliance of Retired Public Servants, representing former state staff including civil servants, teachers, nurses, and gardai, claimed its members are being discriminated against by the government.

It said this was the case because they have to pay the universal social charge, unlike private sector pensioners.

The group said the HSE is not taking government cuts to their pensions into account when deciding if they qualify for a medical card.

In a speech at the Retired Civil and Public Servants Association's AGM, council member Sean O'Riordain said it was a "common populist belief", which governments were aware of and at times encourage, that public service pensioners "as a class, are fatcats".

"The reality in, for example, the civil service is that less than 0.1pc have pensions over €100,000 and the average pension is in the region of €20,000," he said. He said a married public servant with a pension of €32,500 a year would have to pay a universal social charge of €1,593.80, while a private sector pensioner with the same pension would not. "This is the equivalent of the public service pensioner being required to pay a second property tax and water charge," he said.

He said many people do not realise that public service pensioners, unlike their private sector counterparts, do not receive the state pension.

In addition, if their spouse did not work outside the home, he said, they had no entitlement to a state pension.

Mr O'Riordain said governments had cut public service pensions in 2010, 2011 and last year, which meant pensions over €12,000 dropped by between 8pc and 28pc.

"This is penal," he said. "For many pensioners, their actual pension rate is close to what it was nearly 10 years ago."

The group wants an 'exit programme' to be drawn up to halt the government's use of emergency powers to cut public service pensions, which it said was "untenable as economic circumstances improve".

The Alliance of Retired Public Servants was formed last year after pensioners complained they were not represented at the Croke Park or Haddington Road deal talks.

It is waiting for a meeting with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, having met his officials recently.

Irish Independent

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