Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Spokesperson for Social Protection has said that women are getting a raw deal under the current pensions system. Because many women take time out of their working lives to have children or care for loved ones they lose important credit contributions and fail to meet the threshold for the full State pension.
Speaking during this week’s Seanad debate on the Social Welfare Bill 2016, Senator Ardagh said, “This is a real and present inequality in Ireland. Lip service is given to this issue in committees, the Dáil and the Seanad but nothing has been done to remove this disparity.
“The current system structure has become a real problem and is creating substantial financial hardship for women nationwide. It is deeply unfair to penalise women who have taken time out of the workplace to raise children or care for family. We need to see the current antiquated system reviewed.
“A 2012 study by the European Institute for Gender Equality found that the pension pay gap between men and women amounted to almost €700 a month. In fact only 16% of women receive the full State pension, and changes to the contributory thresholds, which determine how much people receive, have made the situation for women worse.
“As a result of these changes, the number of paid contributions needed to qualify for a State pension increased from 260 to 520. This effectively makes it more difficult for those without a full-time, long-term working history to qualify for the maximum weekly payment and it penalises women who took career breaks to have children.
“We must move towards a universal pension system which gives women and men equal access to a comprehensive pension guarantee and which provides a decent standard of living for all. I have tabled a number of amendments to the bill which I hope will effectively address this issue.
“The current State pension scheme must be reviewed and replaced with a system which ends discrimination against women”.