Sounding a warning about pensions - Dr.Laura Bambrick

4 Jul 2019

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Dr.Laura Bambrick Social Policy Officer ICTU 

Speaking at the Congress Biennial Conference Dr.Laura Bambrick said that the Government published a five-year plan for pension reform last year.

The two most fundamental reforms proposed are 1. The introduction of a retirement saving scheme for workers without an occupational pension, which will, for the first time, place a legal obligation on employers to contribute to a pension for their workers. A move Congress has been to the fore in calling for.

2. The second reform of significances is a change to the method for calculating entitlement to the contributory State Pension.
Dr Bambrick said that "of particular concern to us, is the planned increase in the qualifying age from 66 today to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.

For each year the Government increases the pension qualifying age it will cost workers €13,000, plus secondary benefits such as free travel and the fuel allowance. If they have a dependant spouse it will cost them an additional €11,500 and €1,700 for each child. This is the biggest ever cut to the social safety net for working people. It will continue to be resisted by Congress".

Dr.Bambrick also noted that the number of people in work is at an all-time record high. But, against this backdrop, the economy is not working for too many working people.

"As such, a central plank of the work of Congress continues to be a push-back against the casual and insecure nature of work, low-pay and wage inequality, and the displacement of jobs and skills by advances in new technology",  

She said, "our awareness raising campaign for ending the reduced 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector, the sector with the largest number of workers earning the National Minimum Wage or less, was a success, with Government abolishing this €2.7 billion subsidy in Budget19.

Our annual report of CEO pay is instrumental in bringing to the public’s attention the alarming gap between the highest paid and workers earning the average wage.

Our membership surveys paint a stark picture of the struggle workers and their family face to meet the cost of their basic needs, including housing and childcare.

We continue to resist Revenue’s plans to abolish the modest flat-rate expenses allowance for PAYE workers.

That this attack is happening at the same time as the self-employed are being given access to a wider range of contributory welfare supports – jobseekers benefit, invalidity pension, paternity and parental leave, treatment benefits – without a corresponding increase in their already low social insurance contribution further crystallises the inherent unfairness in our income tax and social welfare systems.