The Government intends to increase the State pension in October and every year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said. Speaking during a briefing to political reporters, Mr Varadkar said he could not “go into any specifics on the budget on tax, on pensions, on welfare, on spending because we just aren’t at that point yet”.

“But what I will say is the programme for government states very clearly it is our intention to increase the pension and increase it ahead of the rate of inflation and to do so every year.”

Asked directly if there would be an increase in the October budget, he said: “That is our intention but we have yet to engage in budget negotiations and there are many moving parts but that’s the plan for sure”.

‘War of words’

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described as “both ridiculous and without foundation” a story in yesterday’s Sunday Independent which claimed there was a “war of words” between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over the pension issue. “The report, which claims there is a war of words between myself and the Taoiseach over increases to the old age pension, is ludicrous and inaccurate. In fact, the issue has not even been discussed at this stage.”

He said the “confidence and supply arrangement”, which underpins Fianna Fáil support for the minority Fine Gael led Government provides for an increase in the old-age pension over the next number of years “and last year we were successful in securing a €5 increase as part of that agreement”.

“Neither party has entered into discussions on the specifics of the next budget – but as was made clear in the article, Fianna Fáil wants to see pensioners looked after in Budget 2018. However, no specifics have been discussed at this stage.”

The maximum, non-contributory, means-tested State pension increased last year by €5 to €227 per week for people aged 66-80 and to €237 for those aged 80 and over.