I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 34 together.
The Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) published a report “Gender, Pensions and Income in Retirement” on 12th September 2019. This report was sponsored by the Pensions Council, which is a statutory body which has been set up to provide advice to me in relation to pensions matters.
At the outset it is very important to note that the ESRI's research found no consistent evidence of a gender gap in the payment of state pensions. Measures regarding homecaring periods that I introduced last year and intend to continue in the announced reform of the State pension will ensure that this continues into the future.
Men and women have different experiences in the labour market. My Department has a range of supports for those who wish to re-enter the labour force including Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment and the Working Family Payment.
Furthermore, I launched the Irish Government’s "Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023" in February 2018. The Roadmap provides for major reform of State, occupational, private and public service pensions. One of the key proposals is the introduction of an automatic enrolment pensions savings scheme. It is now widely accepted that reform of the current, purely voluntary approach to retirement saving is required to improve coverage to a desired level. A report on auto-enrolment will be brought to Government for consideration in the near future to facilitate the next steps for implementation of the scheme in 2022 as planned.
I share the Deputies' wish that the pension gender gap be eliminated completely and look forward to their continued support for policy initiatives aimed at achieving this result.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.