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Department plays down report over €324bn shortfall

The Irish Times cited an unpublished report from KPMG that indicated the State was facing a massive pensions and social welfare shortfall by 2066 in a story today that the government has played down.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection has played down a report which claims that the State’s future pension and social welfare liabilities could amount to some €324 billion.

The Irish Times reported this morning that a review of the Social Insurance Fund that was carried out by the accountants KPMG indicated that a growing shortfall in the fund would see accumulated deficits of up to €324 billion by 2066.

The paper’s economics editor Dan O’Brien wrote that rapidly rising pension liabilities are the cause of the fund’s “exploding deficit in the future”.

But in a statement the Department of Social Protection said that the €324 billion referred to was the sum of all projected annual deficits up to 2066 “expressed in current terms, assuming no action is taken”.

The statement said: “As stated by KPMG, “the long-term projections, by their very nature, are unlikely to be borne out in practise”, the report emphasises “the trends which emerge over the period”.

The report was the result of a third actuarial review of the Social Insurance Fund up to the end of 2010.

According to the Department, “the review projects the financial sustainability of the Fund based on a set of agreed assumptions and a series of projections of the Fund’s income and expenditure for the period in question, taking account of policy, economic and demographic changes.”

The report, which was completed in June of this year, has not been made public but the government has indicated that it will be shortly.

‘Potential time bomb’

Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on social protection called on the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to publish the review but the government said that it would brief politicians on the matter before publishing it.

O’Dea said earlier in a statement: “The deficit between the amount of PRSI the Government takes in and what is given out in non-contributory social welfare and pension entitlements could be as high as €2 billion this year.

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“Politicians from all parties have an obligation to apply their minds to dealing with such a challenge. To do so constructively, we need to see the SIF Report that the Minister has been sitting on.”

He added: “This shortfall in future pension funding is a potential time bomb which needs full and open debate. The Minister should publish her report without further delay.”

In a statement, the Department of Social Protection said that the review had already been put before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 24 August for viewing by members of the house.

It said that a full briefing of the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection will take place next Thursday, after which the report will be published on the welfare.ie website.

“The Minister is concerned, in the first instance, with briefing the Oireachtas on the findings from the Review,” the statement added.

Read: Half of adults believe state pension will be main source of retirement income

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Hugh O'Connell

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