Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has condemned the sneaky cuts to the State pension that have left thousands of women in Kerry and across the country out of pocket.
New research reveals the cuts, which were introduced under the radar in 2012, have resulted in newly retired women losing as much as €1,000 a year from their State pension.
“The changes to the qualifying criteria for the State pension were announced in Budget 2012 and kicked in towards the end of that year. It means that working women who took time out of the workplace to raise their children are suffering significant cuts to their weekly pension payment,” commented Senator Daly.
“The cuts make it more difficult for people who weren’t in full, long term employment to qualify for the maximum weekly payment. Under the new rules, anyone with less than an average of 48 PRSI contributions a year faces a cut in their State pension. There is no consideration of the women that may have stopped working for a period in order to have children. Those with the minimum of 10 ‘stamps’ a year will see their pension drop to €92 a week, down from the current minimum of €115.20 a week.
“At the time, the Government attempted to justify this cut by claiming it would be offset by a new ‘homemakers credit’. But this never happened. The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has so far refused to sanction such a credit because of the cost. It means that women of retirement age who have made a valuable contribution to the economy and to society are being penalised by this Government for taking time out to look after their children.
“This is just one of a series of budget cuts over the past three years that have targeted working parents and families. We have seen Maternity Benefit slashed for two years in a row, resulting in the loss of thousands of euro for many working mothers. Now that the reality of the pension cuts is becoming clear, the Government needs to keep its promise and introduce a homemakers credit that will offset these discriminatory pension cuts.”