EDITORIAL: Unpopular State pension reforms

March 4th, 2018 8:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

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This week's government announcement of changes to pensions in its ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023' is welcome, but still only an interim solution.

WHILE we acknowledge and welcome the proviso that people should be allowed work on after the statutory age for qualifying for the State old age pension, if they wish to, having to extend one’s working life beyond that should not be mandatory. Currently, the qualifying age for such pensions is 66, but this will rise to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028, while those in the public service will be given the option of staying on until they are 70.
The State wants to move the goalposts further by basing the State pension on average earnings over a person’s working life. This would particularly discriminate against women, who work in lower-paid employment and who take time out to raise their children.
An EU-funded project, called ‘Gender, Older Workers and the Life-course,’ led by Dr Áine Ní Léime of NUI Galway, which drew on the experiences of a cross-section of older workers from all walks of life, came up with a number of interesting conclusions recently. Among them were that workers in physically-demanding or stressful jobs should be able to retire at 66 on State pension; working past age 66 should be a choice – full pension should be available to those who qualify; the non-contributory pension is absolutely critical for women especially and should be enhanced, and the issue of precarious work, low pay and pension entitlements needs to be addressed for certain workers.
This week’s government announcement of changes to pensions in its ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023’ is welcome, but still only an interim solution. There is no one-size-fits-all pension policy as the nature of work has changed so much.

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