I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 73 together.
The Pensions Commission was established in November 2020 to examine the sustainability of the State Pension system and the Social Insurance Fund, in fulfilment of a Programme for Government commitment. The Commission was an independent body comprised of knowledgeable and experienced academics, pension experts, members of civil society and representatives of workers and employers. The Commission has completed its work and its report was published on 7th October 2021. The Commission's Report, its Technical Sub-Committee's working papers, and submissions made to the Commission are available on the Commission’s website, pensionscommission.gov.ie.
The Commission’s Report is a comprehensive report that takes account of an assessment of various analyses of population, labour force and expenditure projections; an examination of international approaches; and responses to an extensive consultation process. It has unambiguously established that the current State Pension system is not sustainable into the future and that changes are needed, and it has set out a wide range of recommendations in this regard.
The report has been referred to the Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands and to the Commission for Taxation and Welfare for their views. I understand that both the Chair of the Commission, Ms. Josephine Feehily and the Chair of its Technical Sub-Committee, Ms. Roma Burke met with the Joint Committee on 17th November 2021. Officials from my Department also attended this meeting.
In the interests both of older people and of future generations of older people, the Government intends to consider the comprehensive and far reaching recommendations in the Commission’s Report very carefully and holistically. My officials will work over the coming months to examine each of the recommendations. They will consult across Government through the Cabinet Committee system. I think it is really important that we complete that work before reaching conclusions. I intend to bring a recommended response and implementation plan to Government by the end of March 2022.
The State Pension is the bedrock of the pension system in Ireland. It is extremely effective at ensuring that our pensioners do not experience poverty. This Government is committed to ensuring that this remains the case for current pensioners, those nearing State Pension age and today’s young workers including those who are only starting their careers.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.