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Mercer Report undermines Minister’s claim of pension bill fairness – Ó Snodaigh

11 December, 2013 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh is calling on Minister Joan Burton to suspend Dáil consideration of the Social Welfare and Pension (No.2) Bill. He made the call after examining the contents of the withheld Mercer Report which reviews pension scheme wind-up priorities.
The Dublin South-Central TD is also angered by the length of time that Minister Burton sat on the report as the contents support his claim that the priority order contained in the Bill is not as fair as it could be.
He is now calling on the Minister to run the figures demonstrating the outworking of her proposed priority order and the alternative proposed by Sinn Féin.
Ó Snodaigh said:
“This Mercer Report was submitted to the Minister on 4th of January 2013, but the Minister only published it this week after I highlighted her failure to do so in the Dáil debate on Thursday. The reason behind her reluctance to put this report into the public domain is now clear to me.”
“It’s evident from the Mercer Review of Pension Scheme Wind-Up Priorities that the Minister changed tack, shying away from her original style of proposal, in order to avoid impacting as much on high-end pensions. And she makes her current proposal in the full knowledge, as laid out in the report,that her protection of gilt-edged pensions comes at the expense of those with low pension expectations.”
“Under her new proposal, made after the Mercer review, where a scheme is particularly poorly funded or particularly mature the active and deferred members gain little additional protection. They could still be left with nothing.”
“It can be inferred from the Mercer report’s findings that my proposal would give much greater protection to those on low pensions and those with low pension expectations than either what was proposed by the Minister in 2011 or what she is proposing today.
In addition the Mercer report states:
“‘Some members of pension schemes are not entitled to the State retirement pension, especially in employments that are or were linked to the public service. These members rely entirely on their scheme for their retirement income. Any change considered to the priority order needs to have particular regard to their circumstances.’

“This Bill as drafted by the Minister pays absolutely no regard to this. My proposal does. In the wind-up distribution order that I have proposed first priority goes to the purchase of the requisite social insurance record for those who are not eligible for the state pension.”

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