Dáil Éireann - Volume 507 - 01 July, 1999
Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
190. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the num ber of people on contributory old age pension who have full pensions; the number on reduced pensions; his views on the pro rata increase given to those on reduced pension; if this system has always prevailed; if all pensioners should get the full increase; the extra annual cost if the £6 increase was given to all old age pensioners in 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17130/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): A key priority of the Government's action programme is that the old age contributory pension will be increased to £100 per week by the year 2002. This year's increase of £6 a week in the maximum personal rates for all pensioners aged 66 and over means that, in its first two budgets, the Government has moved half way towards fulfilling this commitment.
Reduced rate contributory pensions are paid in cases where a claimant has less than the required standard of social insurance contributions. The level of pension payable in such cases is set as a percentage of the maximum payment. In the case of the old age contributory pension scheme, a yearly average of 48 contributions is required in order to qualify for the maximum rate of pension. However, a person with a reduced yearly average can qualify for a reduced rate of pension. For example, a person with a yearly average of between ten and 14 contributions would be entitled to a pension which is set at 50 per cent of the maximum rate. Accordingly, the level of increases provided to recipients of reduced rate contributory pensions is determined by the percentage relationship between the reduced rate and the appropriate maximum rate of payment. This is the system which has operated since the introduction of the old age contributory pension scheme and it applies equally where the general increases are provided on a percentage basis or, as has been the case in recent years, on a monetary basis.
Some 98,800 pensioners on full-rate old age contributory and retirement pensions received an increase of £6 in their weekly personal rates of payment, with effect from the beginning of June, while a further 50,580 pensioners on reduced rates received pro rata increases, at a total cost of £44.5 million on a full year basis, £26.5 million in 1999. The additional cost of increasing all reduced rate old age contributory and retirement pensions by £6 a week would amount to £2.11 million on a full year basis, £1.26 million in 1999.
In all, there are some 61,600 people receiving reduced rate contributory payments, including widow's and widower's contributory pensioners aged under and over 66. The additional cost of providing the same increases as apply in the case of those in receipt of the maximum rates of those payments would amount to £4.17 million on a full year basis, £2.49 million in 1999.
The question of future increases in social welfare payments, including those for pensioners on  reduced rates, are matters to be examined in a budgetary context in the light of available resources and having regard to the Government's other priorities.
Dáil Éireann 507 Written Answers. Pension Provisions.