(Saturday 23 July2022)
Age Action welcomes the Taoiseach’s announcement of a plan to allow flexible access to the State Pension, but care is needed to ensure that the proposals are fair and do not reinforce existing inequalities in the system. Extensive stakeholder engagement is now needed on these new proposals.
Dr Nat O’Connor, senior public affairs and policy specialist at Age Action, said that “Age Action has been calling for a fair and flexible State Pension system for years, so that we all have choice and control over making the transition from work to retirement. The proposal that people can choose to retire later in exchange for a higher annual State Pension rate is a response to one recommendation from the Pensions Commission’s report. However, that report makes dozens of findings, and it will be important to see the full detail of what the Government is proposing. The Government missed their self-imposed deadline to publish a response to the Pensions Commission report six months after it was published, and this announcement is only a partial response to what is a complex area of public policy. It would be wrong for the Government to legislate for these proposals without first consulting with all stakeholders.”
“Age Action wants to see the publication of a substantive response to the Pensions Commission report, and for there to be an extensive consultation with stakeholders. With the issue of the pension age at the last general election, as well as the recent public disquiet about AIB, we have seen the negative consequences of major decisions being made without a process to allow public participation in the discussion” continued Dr O’Connor.
“The existing pension system does not fully support carers or homemakers, with a disproportionately negative effect on women. The new proposals must address these issues. For example, will someone who continues to work as a carer to age 70 or beyond be entitled to a higher rate State Pension? The proposals seem likely to discriminate against the hundreds of thousands of workers who have compulsory retirement at age 65 in their employment contracts. Will the Government now outlaw mandatory retirement, as the UK did in 2011 and the USA did in the 1970s? The opportunity to work until 70 won’t be possible for workers involved in strenuous physical jobs. Will there be a mechanism to allow them to avail of a higher pension rate?
This announcement raises more questions than answers, but it hopefully signals the next opportunity to have an inclusive national conversation on how to provide a sustainable, adequate, fair and flexible State Pension for all of us.” Dr O’Connor ended.