Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 08 May, 2008

Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the Government have undertaken an additional study of extending contributory pension cover to women who were homemakers; and when it is intended to take decisions on pension reform in this area. [17309/08]

  Deputy Mary Hanafin: The social welfare pension rights of those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties are protected by the Homemaker’s scheme which was introduced in and took effect from 1994. The scheme allows up to 20 years spent caring for children or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person’s social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes. However, the scheme will not of itself qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance 10 years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age, must also be satisfied.

The operation of this scheme is subject to review in the context of the Green Paper on Pensions, with particular regard being paid to the operative date of the scheme and the use of credits for pension purposes rather than the current system of disregards. Also, alternative means of providing pensions for homemakers, and others at present outside the social welfare [1193] pension system, are also explored in the Green Paper, including the use of universal entitlements with qualifying criteria based around residence rather than contributions.

A consultation process on the Green Paper is now underway and will remain open until 31 May. Once the consultation process is completed, work on developing the framework for future policy in all areas of pension provision will commence. The aim is to finalise proposals by the end of 2008.