Published on Wednesday28thFebruary2018

Government announce major changes to pensions in Ireland in the 'Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023'

  • A Total Contributions Approach (TCA) for the State Pension (Contributory) will be introduced from 2020, including a new 'HomeCaring Credit'.
  • The value of State pension payments will be maintained at 34/35% of average earnings. Future increases will be explicitly linked to changes in prices and/or wages.
  • A new 'Automatic Enrolment' retirement savings system will be introduced from 2022 to support and encourage personal savings provision.
  • Improvements in pension scheme governance standards and regulatory capacity.
  • Reforms to public service pensions to ensure the sustainability whilst safeguarding the delivery of promised retirement benefits.
  • Greater individual flexibility in retirement decisions and support for fuller working lives in both public and private sector employment.


A major reform of future State, private and public service pension provision was announced today (Wednesday 28th February 2018) at Government buildings by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D.,the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe T.D. and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty T.D.

In launching the five year "Roadmap for Pensions Reform" the Taoiseach confirmed Government's key goals are to "create a fairer and simpler contributory pension system where a person's pension outcome reflects their social insurance contributions, and in parallel, create a new and necessary culture of personal retirement saving in Ireland".

Making the announcement The Taoiseach said: 

"Thankfully, we are all now living longer and many children born in Ireland in 2018 will live to be over 100. This is a very welcome development. Nonetheless, a population that is living longer brings with it its own policy challenges, not least in terms of social insurance and in ensuring the future sustainability and security of the State pension system."

"It is important and timely that we now move to establish a more equitable and transparent State pension system. To do this, we will put in place important pension reforms and also promote better levels of private pension coverage to help supplement future retirement incomes. In combination, these measures will deliver us with a fit for purpose pension system for future generations of pensioners in Ireland".

The measures in the "Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023' reflect the broad intent of the Programme for a Partnership Government which highlighted the importance of long term thinking to address long term pension policy challenges. 

Commenting on the announcement the Taoiseach added: 

"Pensions Reform has been an important objective for me since my time as Minister for Social Protection. When I announced my new Government to the Dáil last June, I highlighted this as a priority area. The system is facing a number of challenges in relation to population changes, income adequacy in retirement and ensuring the sustainability of the Government finances. The task of financing increasing pension spending will fall to a diminishing share of the population as demographic projections indicate that the ratio of people of working age to every person aged over State pension age will reduce from its current rate of 4.5 to 1, to just 2.3 to 1 over the next 40 years."

In outlining the measures contained with the Roadmap for Pensions Reform, the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection Regina Doherty T.D. said:

"The two most fundamental reform measures contained within this plan relate to the introduction of the Total Contributions Approach to the State pension from 2020 and the implementation of an 'Automatic Enrolment' supplementary retirement savings system for employees without pensions coverage from 2022".

The State pension will be reformed and will remain as the fundamental bedrock of the pension system in Ireland.  To do this, the Government will introduce from 2020 a 'Total Contributions Approach' (TCA) for the State Pension (Contributory).  The TCA is advanced as a more logical and transparent system, where the individual's lifetime contribution will more closely match the benefit received.

Under TCA, a person's contributory pension will be proportionate to the contributions they make, with fair regard for periods of child rearing, full time caring, and periods in receipt of social protection payments.  With effect from March 2018 (with arrears paid at the start of 2019), people who reached pension age from 1 September 2012 will be offered the option of transferring to a TCA model, and following a consultation in 2018, a TCA model will be proposed for all new pensioners from 2020.

As with the model being offered on a transitional basis to post-2012 pensioners, the model from 2020 is expected to prioritise those who up to now were impacted upon by anomalies in the 'Yearly Average' system in place since 1961, and whose home-caring prior to 1994 has not been recognised until now.  For those with very few contributions who are not favoured by the new system, there will remain a non-contributory pension.

Outlining the need for the new Automatic Enrolment system to support those without retirement savings to supplement their State pension, Minister Doherty said: 

"It is increasingly evident that most Irish workers are not saving enough, or indeed at all, for their retirement years. Many people will be faced with a serious reduction in their living standards when they retire – a fall in income they clearly do not want. Having examined the options and looked at international experience, the Government has decided that a new Automatic Enrolment supplementary retirement savings system, where the individual retains the freedom to opt-out, is the best approach to take. When introducing this system, we will ensure that those on low to middle incomes receive financial support from both the Government and their employer".

The Minister added: 

"While it is intended to begin enrolling employees in the new system from 2022, we are announcing our commitment today because we strongly believe that our strategic and long-term policies must be conveyed to all, to provide a clear statement of our intent and direction for the future". 

Minister Doherty confirmed that following publication of the Roadmap, separate national public consultation processes will be undertaken for the Total Contributions Approach and the Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System (in Q2 2018).  The Minister confirmed that 

"feedback received from private citizens and representative groups will be used to inform Government in determining the detailed framework for the Total Contributions Approach and the preferred operational structure and design for the automatic enrolment system."

In addition to these major reforms, the Government will also take measures to improve transparency and confidence in the operational environment for private pensions and improve scheme governance and regulation. 

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Minister Donohoe said: 

"This Roadmap represents a comprehensive approach to reforming pension provision in Ireland.  It confirms the standing of the State pension as the bedrock of the pension system and lays out a set of actions to both increase supplementary pension coverage and increase the amount set aside for pensions in a transparent and structured way.  All sectors of society have an interest in securing adequate income in retirement for our people, and the introduction of auto-enrolment will help to achieve this.  Pension reform will also help to underpin long-term economic and fiscal sustainability.

In the context of Public Service Pension Reform, the measures now providing for the significant increase in pension contributions by public servants and the increase in the maximum retirement age to 70, will both serve to support the future long term sustainability of public service pension benefits."

The Roadmapwill provide for fundamental reform of our pension system though the following 6 strands:

  1. Strand 1 - Reform of the State Pension including the Total Contributions Approach
  2. Strand 2 - A New Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System
  3. Strand 3 - Improving Governance and Regulation including the EU IORPS II Directive
  4. Strand 4 - Measures to Support Defined Benefit Scheme Sustainability
  5. Strand 5 - Public Service Pension Reform
  6. Strand 6 - Supporting Fuller Working Lives

Further details of measures contained in the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 are available below.   

The full "Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023' report is available to download on