North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’ Shea this week welcomed progress on the Government’s review of those in receipt of reduced Contributory Pensions.
The Government’s review of pensions, announced earlier this year, applies to people whose rate of entitlement was assessed based on pension rate band changes introduced in 2012. The review will provide for an alternative total contributions approach – re-calculation for contributory pensioners born on or after the 1st September 1946 and new Home Caring Periods to take account of time spent out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is currently working on legislation to implement the new arrangements as well as a new information technology system to be developed in line with the legislation. Both of these measures are at a very advanced stage.
Welcoming the progress, Cllr. O’ Shea said “I want to thank Minister Regina Doherty for her work and commitment on this issue to date. Minister Doherty has confirmed to me that letters will issue to the pensioners concerned at the end of October, to explain to them what is happening and how the review will work. This will no doubt be welcomed by all affected in County Cork, particularly women who have been disproportionally affected”.
Cllr. O’ Shea added “Work has been ongoing within the Department of Social Protection to prepare legislation and design IT systems to deal with the changes since they were announced. With additional temporary staff recruited, this work is on target to see the pensions review process commence in the coming weeks, and so it is planned for the first payments to be made in the first quarter of 2019”.
It is expected that, where increases are awarded, these payments will be backdated, where relevant, to the end of March 2018, or later where a person reached their 66th birthday since that date.
Cllr. O’ Shea concluded by saying “No pensioner will be worse off as a result of this review. Where a pensioner does not benefit from the measures introduced, they will continue to receive their existing rate of entitlement. However Minister Doherty has informed me she expects the majority of those who were adversely affected to be positively impacted by the recalculation and moved to a new, higher payment”.