Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1392)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

1392. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will introduce a change to the calculation for the State pension (contributory) for those that are unable to avail of the homecaring periods scheme or the homemaker's scheme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18400/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020.

In January 2018, I announced the Government Decision to introduce a new interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to the calculation of State Pension that will allow pensioners who reached pension age from September 2012 (i.e., those born on or after 1 September 1946), to have their pension entitlement calculated by an interim “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of new HomeCaring Periods.  This approach is expected to significantly benefit many people, particularly women, whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role.  The TCA will ensure that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions - as opposed to the timing of them - determines their final pension outcome.  The HomeCaring Periods can be claimed for any year in which they occurred - they are not limited to years since 1994.

People whose pensions were decided under the 2000-2012 ratebands were subject to a significantly more generous regime than those who qualified before or afterwards, as a Yearly Average of only 20 contributions per year (out of a maximum of 52) could attract a 98% pension.  The effect of those changes, as it impacted upon those new pensioners since 2012, will be familiar to anyone who followed the debate on this matter over the last 6 years.  If pre-2012 pensioners were also allowed avail of HomeCaring Credits, their arrangements, as a group, would continue to be significantly more generous than those of post-2012 pensioners.  There would also be a very significant cost which would be expected to be of the order of several hundred millions of euros each year.  This in turn could significantly impact funds for future pension increases with consequential implications for pensioner poverty.

I understand that the pensioner referred to by the Deputy is paid a pension at the 98% rate under the Yearly Average system, based upon the pre-2012 ratebands, and so she was not negatively impacted upon by the changes in 2012.

For those with insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for a State pension (contributory), they may qualify for a means tested State pension (non-contributory), the maximum personal rate for which is €237 (over 95% of the maximum rate of the contributory pension).  This rate of payment does not include rent allowance, household benefits or fuel allowance.  Alternatively, if their spouse is a State pensioner and they have significant household means, their most beneficial payment may be an Increase for a Qualified Adult, based on their personal means, and amounting up to 90% of a full contributory pension.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.