Cabinet to hear State pension age should not go beyond 66
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is bringing proposals to Cabinet to ensure the State pension age remains at 66 – rather than 68 as recommended by the Pension Commission.
It is understood Ms Humphreys is also recommending a flexible pension age, in which people who choose to work beyond 66 years of age receive higher rates of pension payment.
The weekly State pension would increase from €253 for 66-year-olds to €266 for 67-year-olds; €281 for 68-year-olds; €297 for 69-year-olds; and €315 for 70-year-olds – a combined 24% increase.
Long-term carers will be able to qualify for a contributory pension for the first time.
It is understood that the amount by which PRSI would have to increase to fund the initiative will only be determined later in the year, following an actuarial review.
However, a source has told RTÉ News that there would be no PRSI increase in the forthcoming budget, and possibly not in the following budget due to the cost-of-living crisis.
The new system would require new legislation and IT systems, so it is understood that the measures will come into force in January 2024.
Setting the pension age is a political hot potato which caused chaos in the last General Election and has been a source of some controversy between the Coalition parties.
Last July, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he believed the State pension age should not go beyond the age of 66, saying there was a “clear groundswell” within his party to retain it.
The previous September, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his Fine Gael party that he would oppose massive PRSI hikes for the self-employed, designed to help pay the State pension.
It is understood the minister’s motivation in backing a flexible model, rather than compelling people to retire at 66, is because the qualification for a pension is an arbitrary date and the policy is not in line with EU norms.
Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O’Gorman will bring proposals to Cabinet today which would introduce five days of paid leave every year for victims of domestic violence.
If passed, the Government would also develop supports for employers in implementing the initiative and to assist employees.
The measure is included in the Work Life Balance Bill, which will also introduce new rights for parents and carers, including the right to request flexible working and right to leave for medical care of a child.
Furthermore, it would extend the statutory right to breastfeeding breaks from six months to two years.
The aim is to have the legislation passed by Christmas, with the changes to come into effect on a phased basis next year.
Also at Cabinet, Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien will bring proposals to place the establishment of the Electoral Commission on an administrative basis.
The commission will be charged with the registration of political parties; regulating online advertising during elections; and oversight of the Electoral Register.
Once established, it will also take over the work currently carried out by Referendum Commissions, Constituency Commissions and Local Electoral Area Boundary Committees.
It is understood that if Cabinet gives approval to the proposal today, it will allow the new commission to undertake key administrative decisions such as the selection of the commission’s ordinary membership and chief executive.
It would also allow the commission to put in place transitional staffing arrangements; secure premises; and drawing up governance procedures and the procurement of ICT infrastructure and software.