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Helping People Build Better Futures - Irish Life Pre-Budget Submission

Government should use Budget to encourage households to make prudent financial decisions and increase their resilience to future shocks

Two strong themes emerged from the Government’s Summer Economic Statement - the need for the country to adopt a prudent approach to its economic policy and to build resilience for future shocks.  Irish Life Chief Executive, David Harney, has called on the Government to introduce measures which would encourage households to make prudent financial decisions, increase their resilience to future shocks and to make health insurance more affordable for many.

Encouraging a savings culture

David Harney said “Our research shows that people are not saving enough to provide for their retirements.  Just 35% of private sector workers have a supplementary pension, many are beginning contributions later in life and 90% are not saving enough for a comfortable retirement.  

As a country we need to create an environment which supports savings to make sure that all citizens have the opportunity to secure their own financial futures. In our pre-Budget submission, we have put forward a number of measures which will encourage a savings culture.”

Irish Life believes that the implementation of an auto-enrolment scheme by 2022 needs to be expedited to drive a cultural change within Ireland for generations and to assist for better pensions provision and retirement options for all.   Employment levels are now at a record high. We know our population is ageing and reform now is essential if we are to ensure that pensions are sustainable and viable in the future. 

“A review before the summer of the Roadmap for Pension Reform 2018 – 2023 suggested that just 6 of the 35 deadlines set by Government had been met. The whole plan is now at risk of being stalled and the target date of 2022 missed.  Now is the time to act.  The reform programme needs impetus and momentum.  The Minister should use Budget 2020 to get the plan back on track if the Government is to reach its 2022 target,” according to David Harney.

It is also important to realise that any delay will impact on the final pension pots for savers.  Irish Life’s own analysis is clear - any delay to the proposed implementation of Auto Enrolment by 2022 could have a very detrimental effect on the pension pots of potential savers in the scheme.

The company is also calling for an alignment of the exit tax on life assurance policies with capital gains tax (CGT). Life assurance investors are typically from low and middle-income categories, while those persons who can access the services of sophisticated tax and legal advice and stock broking firms tend to have higher income profiles and can avail of the lower tax applicable on CGT.  Budget 2017 reduced DIRT to 33% over the next four years, bringing it in line with CGT. This misalignment disadvantages those on lower incomes who are investing in their own future.

David Harney said: “Keeping the 41% exit tax on life assurance policies places an unequal burden on life insurance policy savers. Exit tax has a significant impact on the returns earned by savers.”

Irish Life is also seeking the removal of the 1% Insurance Levy on life assurance payments. This levy was introduced as an austerity measure in the Finance Act 2009.  It effectively penalises people who want to provide for their own and their family’s wellbeing. The levy acts as a clear disincentive to saving, when low or negative interest rates make other savings options such as bank deposits, unattractive.

The Government has highlighted its concern about potential overheating in the Summer Economic Statement. Reducing the taxation burden on savings and investments would encourage people to save for a rainy day. 

“While the Government face many challenges, not least the uncertainty of Brexit, there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.  Government can use Budget 2020 to provide a stimulus to those who make prudent savings decisions for their future financial well-being and health.

Our vision at Irish Life is ‘Helping people build better futures’ and we have approached our recommendations in this pre-budgetary submission with this belief at its core,” concluded David Harney.

The full Irish Life Pre-Budget Submission can be reviewed here: https://www.irishlife.ie/blog/pre-budget-submission-2019

 

Irish Times: Pension auto-enrolment at risk of being stalled, warns Irish Life