Women to benefit from imminent ‘pension reform’

Move to reverse disparity between male and female retirement incomes, claims Government

A recent ESRI study revealed that Irish women’s weekly income, at an average of €280, is €153 less than a man’s average in retirement. File photograph: Getty

A recent ESRI study revealed that Irish women’s weekly income, at an average of €280, is €153 less than a man’s average in retirement. File photograph: Getty

 

Women will benefit from pension reforms being examined by the Government that seek to reverse the disparity between men’s and women’s incomes after retirement, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has said.

To get a full State pension a person needs to have paid a minimum of 520 PRSI contributions or “stamps” over their working life, as well as an average of 48 PRSI payments per year.

People with a lower average number of payments qualify for a reduced pension as long as they have an average of at least 10 payments per year. This model affects women who took time out of work to raise a family or care for relatives.

A recently published study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that Irish women’s weekly income, at an average of €280, is €153 less than the a man’s average in retirement.

It found that a combination of shorter careers, fewer working hours, and lower earnings for women had created a gender pension gap of some 35 per cent.

Ms Doherty said that under her proposal – the total contribution pension model – individuals would be recognised for their efforts in caring for others.

“In the future when we do bring this new model of total contributions, there will be no more pay gap from a pension perspective between women and men.”

A memo on the new model, said to be “nearly complete”, will be presented to Cabinet “shortly”. It is hoped that the changes can be rolled out in the third quarter of next year.

A spokesman for Ms Doherty did not say how much the new arrangement would cost.

Homecare and childcare services

Ms Doherty was speaking at the publication of an ESRI report on childcare and homecare which shows that the most common form of childcare in Ireland is parents and guardians looking after their children.

The report notes that in more than 60 per cent of households where there are children aged under 12, a parent minds their own children exclusively.

The study indicates that out of 11 European countries, Ireland has the second-highest level of unmet need for homecare services and the fourth highest level of unmet need for childcare.

The report reveals unmet childcare needs are more common in countries with “less generous” welfare systems and that the high cost of care for children is a major barrier in many countries.

In Ireland, nearly eight out of 10 people struggle to afford childcare compared to just 20 per cent in Finland.

Bertrand Maitre, one of the report’s authors, said that availability of homecare options and the high cost of childcare needs to be addressed.

“The provision of these services constitutes a vital component of social policies to enhance quality of life, support employment and tackle poverty and social exclusion.”