General Election 2020

Charlie Flanagan gives what he describes as a Fine Gael 'cast-iron guarantee' on pension

Candidate sets out Fine Gael position on pensions and the retirement age

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Flanagan makes pledges on pensions and tax cuts

Charlie Flanagan makes election promise

Laois Offaly Fine Gael candidate Charlie Flanagan says his party is giving a 'cast-iron guarantee' to raise the pension by €25 a week over the next five years.

Speaking about the pension issue he said Fine Gael has increased the pension by €15 a week since the last election.

“To all those pensioners out there, I say that we are giving you a cast-iron guarantee that we will raise your annual pension by at least €25 a week, or €1,300 a year, over the next five years.”

Making the point that people are living longer and healthier lives, Mr Flanagan also addressed the recent controversy over the age at which people will be able to access their pensions.

“We do need to make sure we have the money in the pot to provide pensions into the future. That’s why, over the last two decades, all parties in Government agreed that the State Pension age would need to be moved from 66 to 67 in 2021 and then to 68 in 2028.

“However, we also understand that the proposed changes have now taken some by surprise and have caused concern for some of those who have had to retire.

“We will meet those concerns through the Golden Years Guarantee. It is a new State Transition Pension for those retiring at 66 and it will be paid at the higher State Contributory Pension rate of €248 per week,” said the statement.

Mr Flanagan also spoke about access payments.

“Those who have worked all their lives should not have to feel they are signing on the dole,” said Mr Flanagan.

“We are introducing a new State Pathway Pension which will end that. For those retiring at 65, the current payment rate will be maintained, but all of the criteria of jobseekers such as the requirement to be actively seeking work will be eliminated, and the restrictions on travel will be removed too.”

Making the point that 85,000 people over the age of 65 are at the workplace, Mr Flanagan said choice and fairness are key.

“We will reform the current pension system by introducing a fairer total contributions approach for contributory state pensions for newly retired people.

“We will facilitate those without a full social insurance record to increase their retirement provision by choosing to continue making PRSI payments beyond pensionable age,” he said

He said the FG auto-enrolment plan will be introduced in 2022 so that people of all ages and professions can save for their retirement years with the help of their employers and the State Automatic Enrolment will supplement the State Pension, which he said will remain the “bedrock” of the Irish pension system.

And Mr Flanagan made a final claim.

Our Golden Years Guarantee is a contract with our older citizens. The timing of retirement will be a choice, and we are guaranteeing increased pension payments, a fairer system and, where necessary, a top-up savings scheme to ensure a good standard of living.”