Age Action and the National Women’s Council of Ireland have urged TDs to support a motion from Deputy John Brady calling for pension equality. The motion will be debated in the Dáil on Wednesday 7 December.
Both organisations welcomed the €5 increase to weekly pension payments in Budget 2017, but emphasised the need for significant pension reform.
The financial crisis uncovered serious flaws in the Irish pension system but much of the debate has ignored the detrimental impact of the current system on women and retired workers forced onto the social welfare payment.
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI, said: “The motion’s proposal to reduce contributory thresholds is important. The gender pension gap has widened in recent years to 37%.
"This inequality is directly related to women taking time out of paid work to care for children or family and losing the opportunity to build up enough PRSI contributions to qualify for a full contributory pension.”
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications in Age Action, said: “More 65-year-olds are on the dole than any other age.
"This is because the Government abolished the transition pension while still allowing employers to get rid of older workers through mandatory retirement clauses. Thousands of older unemployed workers are losing almost €50 every week as a result.”
Age Action and NWCI hope that the motion tabled by Deputy Brady will prompt necessary and long overdue action by the Government to reform the State Pension system to ensure that it is fair, sustainable and enables people to age with dignity.
Justin Moran continued: “Next year’s increase in the State Pension, though delayed, will help to reverse rising poverty rates among older people. But pension increases must be accompanied by reform.
"Most of us will rely on the State Pension to provide a decent income in retirement. This motion is an important contribution to the debate on how we protect and strengthen the State Pension system.”
Orla O’Connor continued: “For women, one of the key concerns is not having access to pension entitlements in the first place. Women mainly rely on state pensions in their older years, but only 16 % of those receiving a full State Contributory Pension are women.
"We’re supporting this motion because it explicitly calls on the government to ensure that pension equality for women will be front and centre of pension reform.”