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U-turn means no solution to shortfall in State pensions 'for quite some time'

Changes introduced in 2012 altered how a person’s state pension is calculated.

Last week, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she would deal with the pensions issue at Cabinet today, however, no such report was brought.
Last week, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she would deal with the pensions issue at Cabinet today, however, no such report was brought.
Image: Leah Farrell

DESPITE PROMISES FROM the Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty last week, there will be no quick solution for people whose State pension payments have been reduced.

Changes introduced in 2012 altered how a person’s state pension is calculated, with the majority of those impacted being women who took time out of work to raise families.

In the Dáil last week, Doherty made it clear she would bring a memorandum to the Cabinet today to deal with the issue.

Doherty told the chamber that her officials had been carefully examining the different approaches that could be taken to address it.

“The process is actually very nearly completed. I had a meeting with my officials yesterday. I had hoped to bring the matter to the Cabinet today but I did not want to bring something that was … three-quarters baked. I have no doubt I will have it [finished] in the next couple of days,” she said.

However, no such memo came to Cabinet today.

The Taoiseach was asked today why there had been a U-turn on the issue, and how long pensioners had to wait for it to be fixed.

“No report of that nature came to Cabinet today… We have a solution, which is a new approach to calculating the State pension contributory, namely, the total contributions approach. It will come into effect in 2020. It will need to be legislated for.

“However, in the meantime, the Minister and her officials and officials of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are exploring interim proposals. However, we do not have them worked up or costed yet, and that will take a number of weeks,” he said.

Leo Varadkar later said the “interim measures” that may be introduced, will not be in place “for quite some time”.

There was speculation that the pension debacle would not be dealt with before the next Budget, however, today sources said it may be dealt with before next October.

A government spokesperson later said the department was “waiting to get a clear picture” of how the change in the pensions system has affected people, adding that it is looking for the best way forward.

“We will deal with this… it is still very much on the cards,” added the spokesperson.

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