Ireland’s AE ‘at risk of being stalled’ – Irish Life CEO

Plans to introduce an auto-enrolment style pension system in Ireland are “at risk of being stalled”, Irish Life CEO David Harney has said.

The Irish government released its plans to introduce auto-enrolment pensions to the country by 2022 in February 2018, with its Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023. This was followed by a consultation published in August 2018.

However, speaking to The Irish Times, Harney said: “The whole plan is now at risk of being stalled and the target date of 2022 missed. Now is the time to act. The reform programme needs impetus and momentum. The Minister should use Budget 2020 to get the plan back on track if the government is to reach its 2022 target.”

Under the plans for auto-enrolment employee savings in the scheme will be supported by employer and state contributions. Workers will have the freedom to opt-out if they do not want to save. However, the Irish government is hoping that few will choose to do so, following the success of the system, and low opt-out rates in other countries, such as the UK.

The plans for auto-enrolment were recently criticised by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) , as it does not believe it will change the 35 per cent gender pensions gap in the country, which was revealed in a report from the Economic and Social Research Institute.

NWCI director Orla O’Connor, said: “This report raises once again serious questions in relation to the government’s reform of our pension system, which focuses mainly on increasing enrolment into private pensions. This approach does nothing to address the inherent gender differences in terms of employment history and is likely to further increase rather than reduce gender inequalities in relation to the old age pension."

She highlighted the fact that women are more likely to be in low pay, precarious employment and move in and out of the workforce due to their care responsibilities over their lifetime.

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