Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien has acknowledged that pensioners will need to top up their pensions to pay rent in the future.
The government was heavily criticized after the Irish Independent announced yesterday that the new auto-enrollment pension scheme will be required to pay rent for the increasing number of elderly people who will not own their own homes when they retire.
A confidential memo submitted to Cabinet on Tuesday says the new system will be “particularly important” as homeownership rates plummet.
“Increasing numbers of older people will need sufficient income during their retirement years to cover rental costs,” the memo reads.
Yesterday Mr O’Brien said it was “incorrect” to say the function of the new pension scheme is to enable pensioners to pay rent in the future.
“People are free to interpret the memo as they see fit,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The idea that this is worded as simply about increasing pension protection so people can pay their rent going forward is not correct.
“That’s not why the government is doing this.”
However, when asked if the government was concerned that an aging population would need to use their pensions to pay rent, he said “of course” the government needs to look into this.
“Obviously this is something that as the population ages also needs to be addressed and that needs to be addressed through the provision of housing.
“It’s something we need to watch as certain segments of the population get older.”
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin came under fire at Leader’s Questions in the Dáil, and Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy said people would be forced to “hijack” their pension funds to pay rent in their 60s.
“If anyone thinks the answer to the 2022 housing crisis is modest pensions, which people will be entitled to in 20, 30 or 40 years, is it any wonder we’re in the mess we’re in?” She asked.
The Taoiseach said he was “surprised” by the criticism and that the whole point of the new auto-enrollment plan is to provide “quality of life” for retired people.
He did not dispute the contents of the memo reviewed by the cabinet.
But Ms Murphy said: “Tenants read them Irish Independent Today they will have pulled their hair out.
“Hundreds and thousands of them have no pension. Why? Because they can’t afford one while they pay horrendous rents of around 2,000 euros a month and are struggling with a very acute livelihood crisis.”
She said the declining homeownership rate, which fell from 79 percent in 1991 to 68 percent in 2016, is a big problem.
Sinn Féin Chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald said there is “crisis upon crisis” as Ukrainian refugees join an emergency shelter.
Mr O’Brien said around 35,000 additional homes will be needed over the next few years to accommodate an unprecedented number of refugees arriving in the country.
The local authorities were consulted to submit a list of serviced zoned or non-zoned sites that could be used for Housing. The government has also identified 500 properties that could be converted.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/minister-admits-retirees-will-have-to-dip-into-pensions-to-pay-rent-41505523.html Housing Secretary Daragh O’Brien admits pensioners need to retire to pay rent