New commission to report is recommendations by next June
Former head of the Revenue Commissioners Josephine Feehily is to head up a new commission that will make recommendations to the Government on the age that people will qualify for the State pension.
Ms Feehily has also chaired the Policing Authority since she stepped down from her role leading the tax authority.
The new Commission on Pensions has been told to report by the end of next June on the qualifying age for the State pension, contribution rates, total contributions and eligibility requirements.
It comes after previous plans to increase the State pension age proved highly contentious during last February's general election.
This prompted a commitment in the Coalition’s Programme for Government to maintain the pension age at 66 pending the completion of the commission's work.
The pension age had been due to go to 67 in January 2021.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys today secured Government approval to establish the Commission on Pensions.
The commission will engage with a range of key stakeholders to ensure that it has a genuine understanding of not only the fiscal sustainability challenges involved, but the social sustainability challenges of implementing potential policy reforms.
Other members of the new body include the chair of the Citizens’ Information Board, Ita Mangan, who is a barrister; actuary Roma Burke; UCC lecturer Seamus Coffey; labour economist Dr Aedín Doris; adviser for Age Friendly Ireland Jack Keyes; chief executive of SpunOut.ie Ian Power; deputy secretary-general of the Department of Social Protection; former member of the Pensions Authority Anne Vaughan; and yet-to-be named representatives from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and business group Ibec.
Ms Humphreys said: “The Government is acutely aware of the challenges the State faces in terms of ensuring our State pensions system is sustainable when it comes to managing our public finances. But this is not the only consideration at hand.
“The State pension is the bedrock of the Irish pension system. It is extremely effective at reducing poverty for pensioners and I want to ensure that this remains the case into the future.”
The commission has been asked to look at projected changes in demographics, and review the situation in other countries, among other considerations.
During the summer, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council suggested the age to qualify for the State contributory pension could rise to 69 by 2035.
It says the population is young by European standards at the moment but is ageing rapidly.
Rising healthcare costs also mean measures are needed to deal with the increasing cost of an older population.