Pensions, women and childcare

 

Sir, – While I welcome the changes being made by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar to the rules for making voluntary contributions of PRSI to increase entitlements to the contributory state pension, there is another major issue regarding this pension that needs to be addressed urgently.

This is the effect of the new “averaging” rule for the calculation of state pension entitlement, particularly for the cohort of people that will be reaching pension age in the near future.

Many of these people, mostly women, will have taken time out of the workforce to care for their children in the home and now have a long gap or gaps in their PRSI contributions as a result. For women now in their late fifties and sixties, it was more the norm than it is today to take time in the home for the care of children.

This issue has obviously been recognised by Government but only for people working in the home after April 1994, for whom these years can be discounted for averaging purposes. I would like to know why such a measure cannot be applied to all persons who were working in the home, regardless of date? Being cynical, perhaps it is because there were far more people working in the home prior to this date!

As a woman who did spend time at home with my children, I feel that I should not be penalised for this in my pension entitlements, particularly when article 41.2 of the Constitution states that “In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, a woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved”.

Clearly it is the responsibility of this State to support those woman who previously supported the State by their work within the home. – Yours, etc,

JILL STEER,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.