There will be a further increase in the weekly State pension in the Budget, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
He said “the exact amount has not been decided yet” but that there “certainly” will be a rise.
The Taoiseach was responding to Independent TD Joan Collins during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Tuesday, who said the number of older people at risk of poverty increased by 55,000 last year in comparison to 2021.
Ms Collins said the Government’s policy, A Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023, pointed out that the State pension should be indexed at 34 per cent of the average earnings and should be tied to the consumer price index.
The Dublin Central TD also said many older people were now facing notices to quit following the lifting of the eviction ban while one-in-five older people living alone were at risk of poverty.
“This isn’t acceptable, not for our older people, and not for one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” she said.
“It is far past time to see the increase in the State pension that was promised in 2018.”
In response, Mr Varadkar said he could “absolutely assure” her there would be a further increase in the weekly pension in the Budget.
“The exact amount has not been decided yet, that will have to be discussed between now and October and will have to be seen in the round of other things we want to do as a Government,” he said.
“But certainly there will be a further pension increase and a decision on that will be made at Budget time as it always is.”
The Fine Gael leader said he would have to read back on what was said in 2018. He said the Programme for Government 2020 now applied.
“I am not exactly sure that we made a commitment to benchmarking or indexation,” he said.
Mr Varadkar also said poverty rates among pensioners and older people had increased last year largely as a result of the cost of living crisis and high inflation.
However, he said pensioner poverty in Ireland was lower than poverty among working age people.
“Pensioners or older people are less likely to experience poverty than adults of working age. It is important to acknowledge that,” he said.
“While poverty rates increased last year due to the cost of living crisis, they had been falling and trending downwards for many years. I believe that with incomes recovering, prices stabilising and with the actions the Government will take in the next budget, we will see that improve again.”