Burton calls for the introduction of ‘living wage’ when economy improves

Minister to publish proposals for occupational pension scheme

Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection: imperative to break “vicious circle” between bank and sovereign debt. Photograph: Alan Betson

Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection: imperative to break “vicious circle” between bank and sovereign debt. Photograph: Alan Betson

 


Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said there was scope for the introduction of a “living wage’’ when the economy recovered.

“A living wage would be higher than the minimum wage and would provide the income necessary to meet basic needs, including housing and healthcare, on top of items such as food and heating,” she said.

Its gradual phasing in should start on a voluntary basis, with buy-in from employers.

Ms Burton also said there should be tax relief for low-income and middle-income earners when the public finances allowed.

In the coming months, she said, she would publish a road map for the introduction of a comprehensive occupational pension scheme. “Fewer than 51 per cent of people in employment, aged 20 to 69, have pension coverage and this number is decreasing.”

‘Vicious circle’
The Minister said in June 2012, euro zone leaders had affirmed that it was imperative to break the “vicious circle’’ between bank and sovereign debt, and examine Ireland’s situation in that regard.

“We will continue to push for that agreement to be honoured and for a wider deal on that debt, in particular through the potential use of the European Stability Mechanism for bank recapitalisation.”

The Minister was speaking during a debate on the Government’s priorities for the year ahead.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the past year had been good for jobs, with 61,000 jobs created, more than 1,000 a week, representing the fastest employment growth rate in Europe.

“Underpinning recent progress has been our continued responsible management of the public finances throughout 2013, which has seen our deficit continue to fall.”

Full employment
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that, having achieved the goal of exiting the bailout, the Government must now focus on its next objective of full employment.