Changes to pension ‘contradict’ promises of equality

Changes to the contributory pension which disproportionately impact on women have been criticised by a Government TD who said they “contradict” the Coalition’s promises of equality and to protect welfare payments. 

Fine Gael TD Áine Collins, is urging Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to consider reversing the measure — introduced in 2012 — in next week’s budget.

The Cork North West TD said it discriminates against women who take career breaks to care for their children — and who thereby allow their partners to continue working.

A reduction of the pension was introduced in 2012 and cuts were graded differently depending on the average number of weeks a person worked during their career.

Ms Collins said it mainly effects older women who were banned from working in the public service when they got married — under laws in place until the 1970s — and lower-paid women who worked on and off in the private sector.

“In some cases, these women who spent a substantial part of their lives working and paying contributions, would have been better off if they had not worked at all and just claimed the non-contributory pensions,” she said.

“This in my opinion contradicts two basic principles which this Government has committed to. Firstly, removing obstacles that might prevent a women returning to work. Secondly, this Government’s commitment not to do anything that would reduce basic social welfare payments.

“To me it doesn’t seem at all fair that if you started work when you are 20, working until you are 32 or 33, taking 15 or 20 years out, and then when you come to your pension it is averaged over your whole life. There are definitely inequalities in the system,” she told the Dáil.

Junior Social Protection Minister, Kevin Humphreys, said the issue needed to be considered but it is too late to do so in time for Tuesday’s budget.

“We need to look at this. I would be very happy to sit down after the Budget to see can we scope out and look at a proposal that may be able to address the area,” he told Deputy Collins.

“When you are starting to mind your children and you are 30, the last thing you are thinking about is when you are 65 and the effects that break in your working life will have on your income in later years.”


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