Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 09 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
19. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he has prepared any response to the benchmarking proposals of the Irish senior citizens parliament, that is their long-standing demand that contributory and non-contributory pensions should be set at 34% of average industrial earnings as was also recommended by the national pensions policy initiative. [24955/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): On taking office, this Government set ambitious goals in order to secure the future of our older people, one of which was a commitment to bring the old age contributory pension up to £100 per week over the lifetime of the Government, that is, by the year 2002.
This Government committed itself, in last year's review of the programme, to the early achievement of the £100 commitment and, furthermore, extended it to all social welfare old age pensions by 2002.
Significant progress has already been made in this regard. In the three budgets since taking office, the Government has moved towards achieving the £100 target rate. The personal rate of old age contributory pension has been increased by £18.00 to £96.00 per week, while the rate for a married couple has been increased by £27.20 to £160.40 per week. The equivalent rates for old age non-contributory pension have been increased by £18.00 to £85.50 per week and by £29.70 to £137.20 per week respectively.
Under the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, a working group is being established which will have a mandate to examine the range of issues associated with the benchmarking and indexation of social welfare payments. This will include their long-term economic, budgetary, PRSI contribution, distributive and incentive implications, in light of trends in economic, demographic and labour market patterns. It is envisaged that the working group will also take account of work being carried out to review the underlying methodology of the national anti-poverty strategy.
A chairperson for the group has now been appointed and the social partners and relevant Departments have been invited to formally nominate their representatives to the group.
As outlined in the programme, there are complex issues involved in developing a benchmark for adequacy of adult and child social welfare payments, including the implications of adopting a specific approach to the ongoing uprating or indexation of payments.
While the senior citizens parliament cites earnings as a possible index, this is just one of a num ber of options that may be available for recommendation by the group.
Dáil Éireann 525 Written Answers. Pension Provisions.