Along with health and housing, pensions was the 3rd most important issue raised by the electorate based on exit polls in Ireland’s recent election. This would seem to grant the next administration a mandate to appoint a dedicated Pensions Minister.
Such was the contention expressed by Eunice Dreelan, Chair of the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF), when speaking at the IAPF’s 47th Annual Dinner last night (Thursday 27th) at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.
Over 600 attendees at last night’s event heard how health, housing and pensions were the three most talked about and influencing issues in the last election. Speakers told the hundreds of stakeholders from throughout the pensions sector in attendance that given that the country already has a Minister for Housing and a Ministers for health, the IAPF, which represents pension savers all over Ireland, is again calling on the new Government, once established, to appoint a dedicated Pensions Minister.
In her address Ms. Dreelan said,
“It is time that we had a Minister whose primary responsibility is to ensure a simple, fair and equitable income system that will safeguard our older population for generations to come.
In 2015, the IAPF voiced its support for measures to increase pensions coverage and to deliver secure, fair and simple pensions, in 2016, we championed auto enrolment, which we reinforced in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019. We believe that there is considerable public support to progress pension simplification and policy development in 2020, but it has to be made a priority by the next Cabinet for that to happen.
Only 1 in every 3 private sector workers have a pension plan, and many of those plans are insufficient to sustain them in retirement. For women, the position is even worse given their interrupted careers, resulting slower career progression, generally lower pay and longer life expectancy.
The auto-enrolment project is at a point where it can now be clarified and established – and any kinks can be ironed out over time. Ireland is late to auto-enrolment, so we have the benefit of learning from the successes and failures of our peers in other countries.”
The IAPF also told attendees that there needs to be greater focus on the sustainability of the national pensions system.
“We believe that the new government should embrace the positive implication of longer lives, by taking a more joined up approach to pension, employment legislation and working practices. This should not however, include reducing the pension age, as that would have a long-term and a significantly negative impact on Ireland’s finances. We do however recognise the need to provide for those we need or want to retire early, and the right of retirees to be treated with respect and dignity.”
The IAPF outlined their plans for an upcoming series of meetings with senior representatives from all stakeholder groups, to agree the path forward and to ensure the delivery of a pension system that makes Ireland a great place to retire in.
“This should be a social contract between government, political parties, regulators, employer, unions and service providers. We must embrace the idea of a social contract focused on making Ireland’s pension system a global standard.
We firmly believe that pension stakeholders working together can fix the current pension system”.
About the IAPF Established in 1973, the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) is a non-profit, non-commercial organisation representing pension savers, whose aim is to ensure we have a secure, fair and simple system of pension provision in Ireland.