Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Ceisteanna (76, 77)

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

132 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the measures she will put in place to encourage a greater take up of private pensions. [7921/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

138 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons that had a personal retirement savings account by the end of January; if she is satisfied with the level of interest in same; her plans to promote awareness of them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7809/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 138 together.

Information on accounts opened is received by the Pensions Board from providers of personal retirement savings accounts at the end of each quarter. The latest figures available for the period from the end of December 2003 show that 19,022 accounts have been opened with a total asset value of €41 million. This is a significant improvement since the end of September 2003 when a total of 6,707 accounts were in existence.

The increase in the number of new accounts opened since September 2003 is encouraging. I look forward to seeing continued growth in the numbers taking out accounts in the months ahead. We are at an early stage in our programme to increase overall pensions coverage but it is clear that progress is being made. It has always been acknowledged that, given the nature of pensions, achievement in this area could be slow.

In 2003 the Pensions Board ran a successful pensions awareness campaign on my behalf to supplement the publicity effort being made by PRSA providers. There was a high level of awareness amongst the public of pensions issues at the end of the year. We must translate this awareness into increased supplementary pensions coverage. I have provided further resources this year to continue the awareness campaign. Last week I launched an information booklet on pensions options for women. A number of regional seminars on pensions in areas with low pension coverage are planned for the end of the month. More initiatives, including media advertising, are being planned by the Pensions Board.

Question No. 133 answered with QuestionNo. 96.