PRE BUDGET SUBMISSION
RCPSA Approach to Budget
The Association is very concerned at the orchestrated representation of pensioners as a privileged class which has largely escaped the effects of the economic crises and which is now ripe for plucking in the upcoming budget. This ignores the extent to which pensioners generally (by definition on substantially reduced incomes) have had their expectations of a secure old age overturned as a result of the socialising of bank debt (the cheapest guarantee ever), the collapse in investments and domestic property values (their “nest egg” for emergencies), the reduction in medical card entitlements, the increases in medical costs, the introduction of the social charge and the increases in fuel and transport costs, not to mention such issues as the reduction in the carers’ allowance which impacts especially on pensioners, many of whom are in declining years, are vulnerable and in ill health.
Public service pensioners in particular are the subject of virulent attacks leading up to the budget. The pension entitlements of politicians and top public servants are presented in a manner which suggests that public service pensioners generally are specially privileged and well off. This ignores the fact that the average civil service pension is E 19,000 (only a fraction of 1% of public service pensioners receive pensions of over E 100,000): that their pensions have been reduced by emergency legislation; that they do not receive the state old age pension and that the universal social charge is deducted from the total civil service pension whereas the state old age pension element of private pension income is exempt from the charge.
The Pre Budget Submission
The Association’s Pre Budget Submission is concerned with protecting the interests of pensioners generally and the majority of our proposals would, if adopted, have a beneficial outcome for both public and private sector pensioners.
The Association is, however, greatly concerned that aspects of current fiscal policy which selectively and unfairly penalise public service pensioners (who as a class have already suffered pension reductions on foot of emergency legislation) are rectified in the budget and are not used as a basis for future penalty. This is especially the case in respect of the removal of the discriminatory application of the universal social charge to public servants and ensuring that the basis on which property and water charges are founded are fair and equitable and do not lead to further discrimination. The restoration of public sector pensions to the pre statutory deduction level is an aspiration which is repeatedly articulated at annual general meetings of the Association.
The principal elements of the pre budget submission, in summary, are:
Apply the USC to public service pensioners on an equivalent basis to its application to private sector pensioners in receipt of the state pension
Exempt persons over 80 years of age from the USC,
Restore the level of public service pensions as soon as possible
Ensure that the new property tax:
– applies a waiver for elderly, low income owners of high value properties,
– takes account of earnings in setting the level of liability for property tax,
– applies a banded system where tax is paid on a self assessment basis,
Exempt persons under the income tax threshold from the household charge and property tax,
Provide an easy option for incremental payment of property tax and water charges at Post Offices,
Include water charges in the household benefits package,
Discontinue the application of the 0.6% Pension Fund Levy,
Protect the Free Travel and other measures which support the independence and welfare of the elderly.