Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim and Spokesperson on Small Business & Enterprise Eamon Scanlon says women are getting a raw deal under the current pensions system. Because many women take time out of their working lives to have children or care for loved ones they lose important credit contributions and fail to meet the threshold for the full State pension.
Deputy Scanlon explained, “This is an issue that I have been raising for some time, and changes over recent years has made the situation worse for women. Financial hardship in retirement has become a real problem for women because of the way the current system is structured. It is deeply unfair to penalise women who take time out of the workplace to raise children and we need to see the current system reviewed.
“I have been contacted by a number of women who are extremely worried about their pension entitlements. Many of them will not be entitled to the full pension payment because they don’t have enough paid contributions and are anxious about how this will impact their pensions.
“A 2012 study by the European Institute for Gender Equality found that the pension pay gap between men and women amounted to almost €700 a month. In fact only 16% of women receive the full State pension, and changes to the contributory thresholds, which determine how much people receive, have made the situation for women worse.
“As a result of these changes, the number of paid contributions needed to qualify for a State pension increased from 260 to 520. This effectively makes it more difficult for those without a full-time, long-term working history to qualify for the maximum weekly payment, and it penalises women who took career breaks to have children.
“We need to move towards a universal pension system which gives women and men equal access to a comprehensive pension guarantee, which provides a decent standard of living for all. The current State pension scheme must be reviewed and replaced with a system which doesn’t discriminate against women”.