DURING the course of the 2020 general election campaign, several parties jumped on the bandwagon of promising to reduce the State pension age to 65 years. Currently set at 66 and due to rise to 67 years of age next year, the present scenario whereby people who have to retire at 65 then have to apply for Jobseekers’ Benefit until they reach the qualification age for the old age pension is farcical; they are not applying for jobs at this stage of their lives and the interim social welfare payment they get is €50 a week less than the pension.
The only specific reference to older people in about a hundred ambitions stated in the draft Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael framework for a coalition document comes under the heading, A New Social Contract, and states: ‘Work with all stakeholders to ensure that every citizen has a dignified retirement and can retire in financial security.’
Apart from being vague, it is a bit patronising and gives no indication as to what they are going to do about the qualifying age for the State pension. The first thing any incoming government must do is to halt the increase in the qualifying age from 66 to 67 on January 1st next; then the question of whether it should revert back to 65 can be looked at.
Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland have already criticised the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael document for largely ignoring older people. Maureen Cavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement, said ‘to see the ones who have suffered the most, and sacrificed so much by cocooning and giving up their normal lives, largely ignored is a huge disappointment and shows how little their contributions to society, to communities and the economy are valued by the State.’
ALONE welcomed the sentiment of the document and finds it more embracing on social justice, however it, too, is calling for firmer commitment to policy issues pertinent to older people.
Insulting older people could come back to haunt FF and FG at the ballot boxes come the next election.