Thursday, 10 September 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
134. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reintroduce the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 which contained important protections for defined benefit pension scheme members; if not, the way in which she plans to protect these members; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23130/20]
The General Scheme of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2017 ( which subsequently became the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017) contained a number of defined benefit pension related measures. The proposed defined benefit pension provisions were of a very technical nature and involved complex policy and legal issues. In an effort to achieve a resilient solution, extensive consultation were undertaken with, and numerous legal advices were obtained from, the Office of the Attorney General on various aspects of this policy. As the Deputy will be aware, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Dáil and Seanad in January 2020.
The Programme for Government, “Our Shared Future”, commits to progressing a number of pension related matters as a priority. Officials in my Department are actively working to draft legislation to set out how the planned increase in the State pension age next year will be deferred and it will remain at 66 years pending the report of the Commission on Pensions which the Government is establishing.
The Programme for Government also proposes an “Early Retirement Allowance or Pension” for 65 year olds paid at the same rate as Jobseekers Benefit without a requirement to sign on, partake in any activation measures or be available for and genuinely seeking work. The new payment will be introduced as early as possible for those who are retired from employment. Officials in my Department are currently considering the design of the scheme and assessing the necessary legislation, ICT system requirements and administrative processes required for the introduction of this payment.
My Department, in conjunction with the Pensions Authority, is also continuing to actively monitor the defined benefit regulatory regime to ensure it appropriately balances fairness between all generations of scheme members with the need to help sponsoring employers, employees and scheme trustees maintain the sustainability of their pension schemes.
I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputy.