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Figures demonstrate that current pension policy is failing women- Morgan

21 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Employment and Workers Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD, commenting on figures published by financial institution Irish Life that three quarters of women have no pension coverage, said that the figures once again demonstrated that the Government’s pension policy is failing women in particular. Morgan further argued that “private pensions are not the solution” and called for the introduction of “a universal ‘basic-income’ pension funded out of the general taxation system for all those of retirement age” to ensure economic independence for older women.


The Louth TDs said: “Figures published by financial institution Irish Life today, which show that three quarters of women have no pension coverage further demonstrate that Government pension policy is failing Irish women. Private pensions are not the solution that will ensure income security in retirement for these women.


“While the Government seeks to address this problem by promoting private pensions its fails to recognise that women, and indeed men, on low and medium incomes cannot afford to take out private pension coverage. The public should be warned that banks and financial institutions, stock market traders and analysts all have a significant financial self-interest in promoting increased private pension coverage which the state is now subsidising to an extensive degree through tax breaks.


“The Government has also failed to address the fact that the public pensions system continues to discriminate against women and prevents older women from enjoying economic independence. Women generally tend to have lesser entitlements to contributory pensions because they are more likely to have less than complete social insurance records due to time spent working in the home caring for children or infirm relatives. The introduction of homemakers disregards does not deal with this problem sufficiently and in fact devalues the work of homemakers and does not allow parents or carers working in the home sufficient entitlement to contributory pensions.


“Women pensioners have an over 40% chance of living below the poverty line while 95% of recipients of the qualified adult allowance are women. The Government has a responsibility to address the plight of these women as a matter of urgency.   


“Women pensioners deserve equity and economic independence. Sinn Féin believes that the provision of a basic non-means tested universal pension for all people of retirement age, funded out of the general taxation system, is the only option if we are to ensure independent pensions for all people and for women in particular”. 


“Sinn Féin is also calling for a reform of the contributory pension system whereby a second tier of pensions related to social insurance contribution (under which ‘home makers disregards’ would be replaced with gender neutral ‘Carers’ Credits’ for years spent on caring duties) would augment this basic pension. In conjunction with this there needs to be a significant immediate curtailment of the tax incentives for occupational pensions, PRSAs and approved retirement funds. The objective should be the elimination of these incentives and the redirection of this funding into the basic non-means tested pension.” ENDS

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