Pension age hike must be halted

12 November 2019

Speaking in relation to Labour’s proposal to halt the rise of the pension age, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, called on the government to accept that we don’t need to raise the pension age to 67 in 2021 as this is unfair to a cohort of workers who have already worked for long enough.

Deputy Howlin said:

“As I said to the Taoiseach today in the Dáil, the economy has stabilised and the public finances are back in balance, thanks to the sacrifices made by the people over the last ten years.

“We have a relatively young population compared to most of Europe. While we do need to plan for the growing number of older citizens, that does not require us to have a higher retirement age than most other European countries.

“At present, people are not entitled to the State Pension until 66 and this is due to rise to 67 in 2021. In future, people who go to third level and only begin their careers in their mid-twenties or later may well work beyond the age of 65. But society is not ready yet.

“Some of those who are now approaching retirement came into the labour market in their teens and have done nearly fifty years of work; and paid up to fifty years of tax and social insurance contributions. It is unjust to require them to wait another two years to receive their pensions when it is no longer necessary in terms of the public finances.

“Many people are tied into contracts that require them to retire at age 65. While some might choose to work longer if they could, many do not have that choice. People in this cohort end up seeking Jobseekers Benefit, and the government has even created an exception to the rules to allow this payment to continue until a person actually retires.

“There is simply no need to require thousands of older people to enter a pre-retirement waiting period for a year. The Social Insurance Fund is projected to have a surplus of €3.8 billion at the end of this year. We have the funds to slow down the rise of the retirement age, to give society more time to adjust. We can afford to allow 66-year olds to continue to access the full State Pension, which they have rightly earned.

“Following the next general election, Labour will not support any government, including from opposition, unless they agree to leave the age for the State Pension at 66 for the lifetime of that government.”

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