Plans to proceed with raising State pension age meet stiff resistance

Pensions Commission set to recommend retirement age should not increase until 2028

Age Action said raising the pension age to 68 was futile while most workers still face mandatory retirement from their jobs at 65 and would not fix Ireland’s ‘ailing’ retirement system. Photograph: iStock

Age Action said raising the pension age to 68 was futile while most workers still face mandatory retirement from their jobs at 65 and would not fix Ireland’s ‘ailing’ retirement system. Photograph: iStock

 

Proposals to go ahead with plans to raise the age at which people qualify for the State pension have been criticised by Opposition parties and groups representing older people.

Competing political promises over when someone should qualify for the State pension were one of the key debates in last year’s general election.

It led to the Coalition deferring the planned rise of the pension age to 67 – which was due to happen this year – while the Pensions Commission considered the issue.

The commission’s report is understood to recommend that the age should not rise at all until 2028. From there it should rise by three months every year and to 67 in 2031. The age would rise even more slowly over the following eight years, hitting 68 by 2039.

Under previous government policy, the State pension age had been due to rise to 68 from 2028.

The commission’s recommendation is understood to be accompanied by options for ensuring the sustainability of the Social Insurance Fund, if the start of incremental increases in the pension age is delayed until 2028.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Thursday that he had not yet received the report and will have to read it before decisions are taken.

“I’m not going to comment until I see the reasons and rationale behind it,” said Mr Martin.

Decent State pension for all

Age Action said raising the pension age to 68 was futile while most workers still face mandatory retirement from their jobs at 65 and would not fix Ireland’s “ailing” retirement system.

“There certainly is a need to look at how our society will afford a decent State pension for all, but we have options to increase what are Europe’s lowest rates of social insurance to help close the gap,” said spokesman Nat O’Connor.

Alone, another charity looking after older people, said it did not agree with any raising of the pension age.

It wants the State pension set at 35 per cent of seasonally adjusted average weekly earnings, rising by the greater of 2.5 per cent or the rate of inflation. At current earnings, that would deliver a weekly pension of just under €300 compared to the current maximum State pension of €248.30.

Alone is calling for a €10.50 rise in the pension every year over the next five years to bridge that gap.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said the proposal to delay the increase in the pension age was “a welcome step forward” but also said “for us it still doesn’t go far enough”. He said his party wants to see the “right to retire” for all workers from 65 if they wish to do so.

Labour Party TD Brendan Howlin said his party had made it clear in its submission to the commission that the pension age should be fixed at 66. He said the State can afford to pay the pension from that age.

“I think what people need above anything else is certainty. That’s the thing that was very clear in the last election, certainty about the age in which they’re going to be able to retire, and be able to receive a state pension. That certainty doesn’t seem to be there yet,” said Mr Howlin.