Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys warns ‘very difficult decisions’ need to be made on state pension

Welfare Minister Heather Humphreys warns that “very difficult decisions” will have to be made on the state pension in the coming months.

The Minister was speaking after it emerged Fine Gael would not support PRSI hikes for the self-employed to fund plans to postpone the rise in the retirement age to 67 until 2031 .

A report commissioned by Ms Humphreys recommended gradually raising the statutory retirement age by three months between 2028 and 2031 before gradually increasing to 68 by 2039.

The Pensions Commission said this could be achieved in part by raising PRSI contributions from 4% to 11% for the self-employed.

However, Fine Gael advised that Mr Varadkar would present plans to oppose such a move during his party’s reflection at the Trim Castle Hotel, Meath.

Speaking at a press conference at the Fine Gael event, Ms Humphreys said she was reluctant to detail the report’s recommendations before discussing them with her government colleagues.

“There are some very tough decisions we’re going to have to make,” she said.

“At the end of the day, what we want to do is protect the state pension so that young people who start working today have the same benefits as those who retire today or tomorrow and it’s really at the heart of the decisions we need to make,” she added.

The minister said a Cabinet committee would discuss the report this week before it is presented to a full Cabinet meeting. Once agreed, the government has six months to decide how to implement the report’s recommendations.

Earlier, Mr Varadkar said Fine Gael would push for a social package in the budget.

“The reason Fine Gael is asking for this pension and welfare package to be in the budget is that there has been no increase in the state pension for a number of years. , there has been no increase in basic weekly payments on social assistance for a number of years and I think that was acceptable at a time when the cost of living was not rising “, did he declare.

“It’s now. We’ve seen inflation come back. Anyone who parks at the gas station, anyone who goes to the supermarket will tell you that the cost of living is going up again. As a party, we all want protect people’s incomes and this also applies to pensioners and people on social assistance,” he added.

Ms Humphreys said she hoped to introduce a welfare scheme focused on the most vulnerable.

Joel C. Hicks