I thank the Deputy. I will pass on those thanks from the constituency of Dublin South-West.
In 2019, my Department undertook a consultation process with a number of interested stakeholders to hear their views on possible approaches to indexation of pensions and social welfare rates more generally. This process included discussion with representatives of the community and voluntary sector at the pre-budget forum in July 2019, as well as at bilateral meetings with stakeholders. The outcome of these discussions was considered and, in consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department has developed proposals for setting a formal benchmark for State pension contributory payments and the indexation of future changes in pension rates of payment.
The roadmap for social inclusion outlines the potential approach currently under consideration. This approach uses what can be described as a smoothed earnings system which would ensure that, over the long term, the relative value of welfare payments compared with market earnings would be maintained and that, over any short-term period, the real value or purchasing power of these payments would be protected.
I have asked my officials to continue to engage with their counterparts in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with a view to progressing this work.