There should be no mandatory retirement age and all workers should be made to join a pension scheme, the Citizens’ Assembly has recommended.
On Sunday, the 99-person forum voted overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing the practice of employers setting an age at which workers must retire, with 86 per cent of members opposing such measures.
There was even more support for ending the current anomaly whereby workers who retire at 65 cannot access the State pension until they are 66, with 96 per cent of members voting in favour of finding a remedy to this situation.
The assembly gathered in Malahide, Co Dublin, on Saturday and Sunday for a second weekend of discussions on how best to respond to the challenges and opportunities created by the State’s ageing population.
Most of this weekend’s submissions centred on the issue of pensions.
On Sunday, 87 per cent of delegates voted in favour of introducing some form of mandatory pension scheme to supplement the State pension, given the poor levels of coverage among many workers.
The assembly did not make any recommendations as to the exact nature of such a scheme, which may take the form of an auto-enrolment regime as in the UK, where workers are able to opt out or change their contributions, or a compulsory scheme with no opt-out option.
The assembly also decided that there should be a “rationalisation” of private pension schemes, after delegates heard on Saturday that 160,000 such policies are currently available in Ireland.
The Pensions Authority has recommended that this figure should be closer to 150.
Members also voted for the State pension of €238 a week to be benchmarked in relation to average earnings, with suggestions from speakers over the weekend that the weekly payment should be equivalent to 35 per cent of average earnings, or just in excess of €250 per week.
There was unanimous agreement among assembly members that the Government should prioritise the implementation of existing policies and strategies relating to older people, such as the 2013 National Positive Ageing Strategy and the 2014 National Dementia Strategy.
Other recommendations included the focusing of additional funding on home-care services and supports, and that providers of home care should be regulated, as is currently the case in the nursing-home sector.
The next sitting of the Citizens’ Assembly is scheduled for the weekend of September 30th, when members will commence deliberations on the State’s approach to climate change.