Monday 10 December 2018

Charlie Weston: Retirement is going to get further off for us all

Briefed: Regina Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke
Briefed: Regina Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

If you are in the workforce, then you had better start getting prepared to remain there well into what is currently regarded as the retirement years.

Demographic and budgetary pressures are combining to mean that the idea of leaving the workforce at the age of 65 is set to become history.

Back when the economic crash was at its most intense, the so-called statutory retirement age was raised from 65 to 66, which it remains at present.

But lots of people are still in jobs where they are shunted out the door at age 65.

They now have to wait a year before they can qualify for the State contributory pension.

This is why those aged 65 have the highest level of unemployment of any age group.

And the retirement age is due to go to 67 for those retiring from 2021.

For those calling work a day from 2028, the State retirement age goes to 68.

The Citizens’ Assembly recommended last weekend the abolition of the mandatory retirement age.

Now, the Economic and Social Research Institute says people should not get the State pension until they reach the age of 70.

Moving the statutory retirement age to 70 would counteract a fall in the workforce and the rise in the number of pensioners, the ESRI said.

How a plasterer or a removals operative keeps working until they are 70 is not addressed in the ESRI paper.

New Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty may find herself agreeing with the ESRI.

She was briefed when she came into office that the State’s pensions bill is spiralling by €1bn every five years due to our ageing population.

The sheer scale of the rising costs could jeopardise pledges by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to increase the State pension by around €5 a week each year over a full Government term. However, that is unlikely as rises in the State pension are part of the Government’s deal with Fianna Fáil.

As for the next generation, keep working is to be the message.

The cash will not be there in the next few decades to pay for an expanding older generation getting the current relatively generous level of State pension.

Irish Independent

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