The whole subject of pensions has become increasingly topical in recent years, not just in Ireland, but also generally in the developed world. One of the major aims of Government policy in this area has been to try to get people to take personal responsibility for planning for their future by persuading them to invest in personal retirement schemes.
In this context I think it is fair to say that the response to the PRSA initiative has been disappointing and it is clear that a fresh approach will have to be adopted if there is to be progress in achieving the target of 70% coverage set in response to the National Pensions Policy Initiative (NPPI). It was in response to the poor take-up of PRSAs that the Government set the Pensions Board the task of reviewing and reporting – a year early – on the state of pension coverage. The report of the National Pensions Review was presented to Cabinet last November and has recently been published. It sets out a series of recommendations aimed at achieving coverage of 70% by providing practical incentives for people to invest in pension schemes. I do not propose to comment in greater detail on the report or its recommendations, which are now being subjected to detailed examination. However, on a general level I have highlighted a number of practical issues in specific areas that I have come across through complaints to this Office. Some of these issues on their own may not appear to be important, but it may be that, combined with other factors, they may have the practical effect of discouraging some people from investing in pension schemes.
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