Fianna Fáil has today unveiled a range of measures to improve pension provision in Ireland over the lifetime of the next Dáil.
Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath commented “Pension provision is an issue which should concern everyone in society, not just those who are retired or nearing retirement age. It is our belief that Ireland must aspire to delivering a comfortable standard of living for retirees. This will involve building on the existing strengths of the pension system and making necessary reforms to improve its effectiveness.
“In the context of assessing pension provision it is important to note that pensioners have taken very significant cuts to their income under the current government.
“There is currently an increase in the number of people aged over 65 of 20,000 annually. While at present nearly 60% of private sector workers do not have an occupational pension. In this context increasing pension coverage will be a major challenge for the State in the years ahead.
“After five years the government has not developed a co-ordinated pension policy which reflects the changed nature of the workplace. Few, if any, employees now expect to be with the same employer for 40 years and there is a need to reflect this by providing for more flexible pension arrangements.
“A more dynamic pension and savings system would take account of other major life events that people have to deal with financially such as redundancy, critical illness, house purchase or debt issues.
“We believe a national system of auto-enrolment with the annual right to opt out is the appropriate way to build coverage. This offers a balance between a system in which pension saving is compulsory and the predominantly voluntary system which currently operates in Ireland.
Fianna Fáil will:
- Maintain and enhance the State old age pension as the cornerstone of pension provision in Ireland.
- Introduce auto-enrolment for supplementary pension coverage with an opt-out facility.
- Maintain marginal rate tax relief for pension contributions.
- Legislate to cap pension fund charges.
- Make pension access more flexible by providing for pre-retirement drawdown of benefits in limited circumstances.
- Propose constitutional protection to prevent a repeat of Fine Gael and Labour’s raid on private pensions.
- Prevent profitable firms walking away from underfunded defined benefit schemes.
- Introduce an appeals mechanism for restructuring of pension schemes.
- Establish a national register of pension assets.