Concern expressed for Pension reform as Government misses 80% of target dates set out in Pensions Roadmap
01/03/2019 Posted by IAPF
Brexit should not stall the progression of Ireland’s pension reform
“Regulation cannot be limitless – it needs to be proportionate and implementable in a cost-effective manner” – IAPF Chairperson
The Government has missed 19 of the 24 target deadlines for 2018 it set out in its Roadmap for Pensions Reform, and of the 11 tasks outlined for Q1 2019, only one appears to have been implemented. Such was the concern expressed by Peter Fahy, Chair of the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF), when speaking at the IAPF’s 46th Annual Dinner last night (Thursday 28th) at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin.
Attendees at the event heard how, although laudable, the Pensions Roadmap had yet to deliver any real improvements or developments for pension savers, and how the Government has fallen wide of the mark in delivering on the timelines it set out in its ambitious planning document.
Peter Fahy, Chairperson of the IAPF addressed 600+ guests,
“Since its launch in February 2018, there has been wide-spread support across the board for the Government’s ambitious ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform’, but the overwhelming feedback has been that pension funds are increasingly concerned that the majority of target deadlines set by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection appear to have been missed. Reports suggest that there has been very little communication between the Government and key sector stakeholders on aspects of the roadmap, and so, understandably, general confidence across the sector in the various projects and activities set out in the report is low.
Only 12 months into a 5-year plan and the Government is already lagging behind on the very detailed timeline for implementation. Of the 24 actions which were due to be implemented under the roadmap by the end of 2018, only 5 appear have been completed. Of the 11 additional actions due to be implemented by the end of March, only one appears to have happened as yet and there has been little or no communication from the Department in terms of update to the various stakeholders that represent pension savers”.
Regulation with due care
The IAPF contend that while they, and other organisations that represent pensions savers, fully support consumer protection measures, pension funds and trustees are struggling under the pressure of increasing regulation, which they contend, is not always necessary or proportionate to what is needed.
“In recent years we’ve experienced a tendency by the Government to implement EU Directives without the level of consultation with consumer representative entities or notice to administrators that seems normal in other counties. Such changes should be introduced in a proportionate manner, with sufficient timelines in place for smaller pension schemes that may not be in a position to immediately comply with the new requirements to migrate to alternative pension structures, such as a fully regulated master trust regime or indeed auto enrolment.
It must be acknowledged that implementing regulatory changes can be hugely draining on the resources of Irish pension schemes, so it is imperative that the Department and the Pensions Authority investigate how schemes can do this in the most cost-effective way possible – which will ultimately benefit the pension savers who are at the core of every development and initiative.”
In his speech, Mr. Fahy acknowledged the considerable thought and foresight which has gone into the Pensions Roadmap and the four major consultations on auto enrolment, reform of the State pension, tax simplification and reform, and regulation of master trusts that have been undertaken.
Where to now on the Roadmap for Change?
Attendees at last night’s events heard how the IAPF would like to see, and will lobby for, real progress on key actions which are now overdue.
– The publishing of the final design for the auto enrolment system
– The reform of approved retirement funds
– Pension tax harmonisation
– The elimination of anomalies in the treatment of different retirement arrangements
– The additional protections promised for funding of defined benefit schemes.
“We accept that Brexit, or the threat of Brexit, has naturally, consumed the time and energy of many Government departments, but normal Government service has to resume and start delivering on its pension promises in terms of modernising our pension system.”