Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance delivered his fifth Budget speech on Tuesday 13th October 2015 while Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Brendan Howlin later outlined the measures in public spending. Up to € 1.5billion was available to spend and spend they did with one eye on next year’s general election. The young, the old, families and the vulnerable were all targeted for benefits in the speech. While an additional € 3 on the State pension will be more than welcome, yet for 890,000 of our working population, that’s all they will have to look forward to when they retire at 67 ( in 2021 ) or 68 ( in 2028 ). That’s 44% of the working population and as far as 2008, the government spoke of auto-enrolment schemes whereby employees would have 2% deducted from their weekly/monthly income while the employer also contributed 4%. It never happened. Five years ago for every person who retired there were 6 workers. In 2051 for every person retiring there will be only 2. At that stage we will have 1.8million citizens over the age of 65 compared to 465,000 currently. The chances of the government in 2051 being able to afford the pension payments then are slim. That is why it is called the pension timebomb. While yesterday’s Budget did give some comfort to those over 66 years of age,
- Fuel allowance for pensioners increased 12.5% to € 22.50 per week for the 26 weeks. This affects 380,000 households
- Christmas bonus increased for pensioners and all social welfare recipients. Single person receives € 173 while a couple will receive € 327.
the fact remains that the only mention of pensions was that weekly € 3 increase and the 0.15% pension levy abolition as had been promised in the 2015 Budget. With the Christmas bonus, fuel allowance and the additional € 3, the pensioner is better off to the tune of € 607 per annum or € 11.67 a week – about the cost of a half decent bottle of wine. Certainly not enough to convince the grey brigade of their voting intentions next Spring. A lot done – more to do.