Call on Minister Quinn to include public sector pensions as ‘wealth’ in means test for third level grants
The President of ICMSA has said that Minister Ruairi Quinn will have to include public sector pensions in any menu of wealth being drawn up in connection with a means test for Third Level grants. Mr John Comer said that ICMSA categorically rejects the notion of a farm as a capital asset but that if today’s newspaper reports that bank deposits and second homes are set to join farms and be considered as assets to be included in any means test, then simple justice dictated that the kind of gold plated pensions only available to the public sector and politicians would be similarly classified as wealth.
Mr Comer said that Minister Quinn and those calling for such a broad-based classification of wealth could not – with any degree of consistency – argue that a guaranteed pension provision of half a final salary together with a tax-free cash lump sum equal to a multiple of final salary did not constitute wealth. In those circumstances, farmers, other self-employed groups, and those working in the wider private sector, who are putting income aside for their old age would be watching with great interest to see when Minister Quinn – and the civil servants who comprise his Capital Assets Implementation Group – would acknowledge that the wealth that will provide so generously for their own old age is essentially the same as the wealth they propose to incorporate into a means test.
Mr Comer said that this was, effectively, the truth-test for any such menu of wealth with reference to a means test. He said that if Minister Quinn refuses to recognise that public sector pensions were wealth comparable with – and indeed, hugely superior to – the assets that he is reported to be considering than it will be obvious that his proposed changes are one-sided and discriminatory. He reiterated his belief that income is the fairest means test.
Ends 17 August 2012
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office