Pension system fails many women

Authors (from left) Mark Simpson, Aoife Callan, Nata Duvvury and Aine Ni Leime pictured with Thomas Scharf, director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, at the launch of the report on women's access to pensions in Dublin. (Author not pictured - Linda Price)

A milestone in my life has been surpassed since my last post, in the form of the launch of my first piece of academic work. The study of pension provision for women was completed by a team from Queen’s University Belfast and the National University of Ireland, Galway.

In our report (available here), we outline how a pension system based on the assumption that women would be supported by their husbands continues to give many women a raw deal in their retirement.

We have received a fair bit of media coverage (links here) and there was a lively debate on the findings at the launch in Dublin. Bronagh Hinds, author of Women on the Edge,  delivered a damning indictment of the likely impact of current welfare reform proposals on women.

Unfortunately, the Irish government’s representative on the panel was fairly dismissive of our call for a universal pension capable of meeting basic needs as a first step towards improving the position of women and other groups who are likely to go through significant breaks from full time employment.

I was pleased that the Green Party in Northern Ireland endorsed such a policy at the party conference last year, in common with our colleagues in England.  

Vested interests will tell us it is unaffordable, but there seems to be no shortage of money to subsidise the pensions of high earners through tax relief – the state transferring wealth to the already well-off. A little less money sent in this direction could make a huge difference to those currently wondering how they will meet their transport and heating costs in retirement.

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About msimpsongpni

Mark Simpson is Environment spokesperson for the Green Party in Northern Ireland and Green Party coordinator in the Balmoral electoral area, Belfast.
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