Brennan upbeat over mandatory pensions

THE Minister for Social Affairs Seamus Brennan said yesterday he was confident the Government would deal with the question of mandatory pensions before the summer recess.

Mr Brennan said he hoped that robust debate at the National Pensions Forum would help bring clarity on the issue of mandatory and quasi-mandatory pensions.

He said the Pensions Board would then speedily conclude its deliberations on the question and that he hoped to bring his own proposals to Cabinet for discussion during this Dáil term.

Mr Brennan first floated the idea of a mandatory element to pensions over a year ago, pointing to the ageing Irish population and the low take-up of private pensions.

While he accepts that the State pension is now edging towards €10,000 per annum, he said it could not be regarded as sufficient in itself.

Yesterday, he pointed to particularly low levels of private pensions in the construction, catering and hospitality industries.

The minister made his remarks while announcing details of Pensions Action Week, which begins next Monday.

The week will involve an intense promotional campaign targeting people between the ages of 25 and 39, stressing to this age cohort the importance of taking out private pensions as early as possible.

Anne Maher, chief executive of the Pensions Board, said it was vital that young workers start their pension early in order to ensure they have adequate provision for retirement.

“With nearly half the Irish workforce not having any pension cover, it is time for people to stop putting it off and start funding a pension,” said Ms Maher.

Both Mr Brennan and Ms Maher honed in on the ‘pensions’ extension to the SSIA saving scheme announced by Finance Minister Brian Cowen in the Finance Act.

The Government will pay a bonus of 1 for every 3 transferred into a pension account from SSIA accounts. The cost to the Exchequer for this scheme will be €250 million.

“What we are saying to anybody who has an SSIA account is to avail of this,” Mr Brennan said.

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