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AE pension system in place ‘later this year’
Heather Humphreys (Pic: RollingNews.ie)

01 Feb 2024 / legislation Print

AE pension system in place ‘later this year’

The Minister for Social Protection has told the National Pensions Summit that a bill to enable the introduction of a new system of auto-enrolment (AE) for pensions will be published in March.

Heather Humphreys said that the bill would then begin its passage through the Oireachtas “immediately thereafter”.

“The time for talk is over; it’s time for delivery, and I fully expect that the first enrolments will take place later this year,” the minister told the event, describing the scheme as “transformative”.

Pensions experts have previously expressed scepticism about the timetable for the introduction of AE, which had been initially targeted for early this year.

Administrative service

The minister said that the tender process for the administrative service to run the AE system was “well advanced”, and that a ‘request for tender’ would be provided to a shortlist of candidates tomorrow (2 February).

“We will have a provider in place in the coming months as we work towards the launch of the scheme itself later this year,” Minister Humphreys continued.

She told the summit that a procurement exercise for investment-management services was also “at an advanced stage of development”.

The minister said that she understood that employers had concerns about the new system, but warned that putting off its introduction for another few years was “not an option”.

She urged employers to “continue to presume” that AE would happen from the fourth quarter of this year, and to budget accordingly.

Supreme Court judgment

Minister Humphreys also referred to a recent Supreme Court ruling, where a man whose long-term partner died in 2021 was judged to be entitled to a widower’s contributory pension (WCP). The couple had three children, but had never married nor entered into a civil partnership.

She told the conference that the department and the Office of the Attorney General were considering the full judgment, and that she intended to bring forward the necessary legislative amendment “as quickly as possible”.

The minister also told the conference that officials in her department were working with the Pensions Authority on the development of proposals to provide a legal underpinning for a master-trust regime in Ireland.

There has been a trend towards the consolidation of smaller occupational pension schemes into master trusts.

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