SF pensions motion is reckless and irresponsible – Varadkar

The Sinn Féin proposals to make changes to the State Pension, as set out in the party’s Private Members’ Motion today in the Dáil, would cost €150 million next year and would have to be taken out of the Social Insurance Fund as well as being a charge on the Exchequer,” Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar said today.

“The cost would rise again in 2018 and every year thereafter. Yet Sinn Féin has made no proposals in its motion on how it would fund any of these plans.

“Over the past five years, the Government has worked hard to bring the Social Insurance Fund from deficit back into surplus. This year the fund will have a surplus for the first time since 2008.

“We have also reduced the Exchequer deficit considerably and intend to balance the books by 2018. Prudent management of the public finances is essential to guarantee the State pension in the years ahead, and empower us to make modest increases.

“Running the Social Insurance Fund in surplus gives us the space to accommodate rising life expectancy, and a spike in unemployment in the event of a future downturn. The Government has a responsibility to ensure that the State pension funds are adequately and sustainably funded to safeguard the future for current and future State pensioners.

“A surplus in the Social Insurance Fund has already allowed the Government to bring in new initiatives such as Paternity Benefit, which became available in September, and to extend PRSI benefits such as free dental and optical cover, and access to income supports if they have a serious illness or injury that prevents them from working, without having to do a means test.

“However, by proposing to spend another €150 million a year without a funding proposal to match it, Sinn Féin is advocating an approach that will undermine the affordability and sustainability of pensions in the medium term. It is reckless and irresponsible.”