Tuesday, 20 October 2015
I thank the Minister of State for taking this matter. Many anomalies arise in respect of the infamous pension levy. My understanding is somebody who works in the private sector and is a retained firefighter does not pay any pension levy by virtue of the amount they earn as a retained firefighter. A person who is self-employed and is a retained firefighter will pay 4.5% in a pension levy. However, if one is employed by a local authority as a semi-skilled worker, one pays 10% in a pension levy on one's wages and one pays 10% as a retained firefighter, which is a huge chunk to take from a working family's wages. Many such individuals are now struggling with both the pension levy and the universal social charge, USC. I note the welcome changes to the USC announced in the budget and the Minister is to be complimented on that. Crucially, however, in all these cases of retained firefighters paying a pension levy, they still do not qualify for a pension. I note members of the Garda took and lost a court challenge on the subject of the pension levy. They lost it on the grounds they actually were paying into a pension fund, which is why they continue to pay the pension levy. However, the retained firefighters are not paying into a pension fund but are paying a pension levy. Therefore, I call for the abolition of the pension levy in this instance and I believe it is in the gift of the Minister, Deputy Howlin, to so do.