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Taoiseach Micheál Martin says pension age should not go beyond 66

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocallireland

Taoiseach Micheal Martin Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocallireland

Taoiseach Micheal Martin Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocallireland

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the State pension age should not go beyond 66 years old.

Mr Martin told his parliamentary party additional PRSI contributions will be needed to ensure the pension age is not increased.

He also told the meeting that people should also be allowed to work beyond 66 if they wish and continue to pay PRSI so they can qualify for a full pension.

He said flexibility will be key to the new pensions system and said a fair and sustainable approach will be required to give people certainty.

The age at which people qualify for the state pension was due to rise to 67 last year, but that decision was reversed after it became a major political battleground during the last general election.

The Pensions Commission has recommended the pension age should rise to 67, but not for another number of years.

The state pension age is currently 66. The commission has recommended that this rise by three months a year after 2028, reaching 67 in 2031, before increasing to 68 in 2039.

It said this could be achieved in part by increasing PRSI contributions from 4pc to 11pc for self-employed workers.

However, earlier this year the Joint Oireachtas Social Protection Committee came down in favour of the qualifying age remaining at 66.

The Government set up the Pensions Commission after it scrapped plans legislated for by Fine Gael and Labour in 2011 to increase the retirement age from 66 to 67 from 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

Speaking after the Fianna Fáíl party meeting, Mr Martin said that he will focus on childcare, pensions and rising costs for families as part of the Budget.

The party leader said the Budget will focus on the marginalised, those on low incomes and those who will feel the brunt of inflation.

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Describing the party parliamentary meeting as "lengthy and comprehensive", Mr Martin said more than 100 ideas were mooted in how to address the financial burden on families.

"Some key areas identified were around childcare, pensions, and also in terms of mitigating costs for families more generally within education," Mr Martin said.

"The childcare was one that a large number felt we should really do something significant in the Budget.

"That was the request of the members of the parliamentary party, in addition to the housing issue, particularly around existing Central Bank regulatory framework around lending or people borrowing.

"Overall, what we're looking at is a Budget that has to combine pay, tax, and the core expenditure for every department going into the next 12 months, along with a cost-of-living package, part of which would have immediate application or certainly application in this calendar year to take the pressure off people.

"Undoubtedly pressure is on households in Ireland, across Europe, because of the terrible war in Ukraine and the fact that energy has been weaponised, food has been weaponised and migration has been weaponised.

"So we're in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two and we've got to respond and navigate our way through that without undermining the key essentials of the economy.

"We must develop a package that doesn't add to that inflation, that does help to alleviate pressures on people."

He made the comments after the Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said it is possible there will be a "modest change" in bringing the Budget forward.

Mr McGrath said the Government is examining whether it is possible to bring forward the date of the Budget and a decision will be made by Cabinet next week.

He said it is being worked through and the process of moving the Budget date is "very much under way".

The Budget is normally held on the second Tuesday of October, but it is understood it could be brought forward to the end of September.

"No decision has been made by Government yet to change that date and the issue is under consideration, but I would say this, there is limited scope to change that because the process of putting together a Budget is a lengthy and complex process," Mr McGrath told RTE Morning Ireland.

"We are working through that at the moment and the process is very much under way.

"So Government will make a final decision and I anticipate that will happen next week.

"We are very conscious of the genuine cost-of-living pressures that people are under and we have said that there will be a need in the autumn for a set of one-off measures to help people in the best way that we can.

"So if it is possible to bring it forward by a short period of time, within the limits, then we are examining that issue at the moment, but no decision has been made, and any change would be modest in nature in terms of date.

"I don't think it will be fair to speculate on any particular date when no decision has been made.

"It is possible that there will be a modest change in terms of bringing it forward. But that's not definite until Government makes a decision and they expect that will happen next week."

Mr McGrath said the measures to be announced as part of the Budget package will be targeted at those most impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.

He said it will involve one-off measures, adding they will be substantial in scale.

While he refused to give details on some of the proposed budgetary measures, he did not rule out including an electricity grant of 200 euro.

"I would like to just set out three broad priorities. One is those who are genuinely the most vulnerable, they will need the most help at this time," Mr McGrath said.

"But people who are working, working families will also need help because they too are feeling real pressure at this time.

"They will want to see us as a Government move to reduce costs in areas like childcare, transport, health, and to reduce the tax burden that they face as well.

"I think the third key priority is public services. The relationship between the state and the citizen works on the basis that all citizens pay some tax to the Government, even if they're not working, and in return they expect the state to deliver good services, access to housing, access to healthcare, good disability services, home care services."

He said the summer economic statement will be brought to Government on Monday, which will set out the resources available for the Budget.


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