IRELAND – Social and family affairs minister Mary Coughlan has admitted that the new Personal Retirement Savings Accounts have been slow to take off.

“Take-up of the new products has been slow to date,” Coughlan says. The national regulator, the Pensions Board, has begun a national pensions awareness campaign aimed at increasing coverage in the workforce from its current 50% to 70%.

“Pension awareness is extremely important, and will become more so, as our older population continues to grow in numbers and life expectancy extends,” Coughlan writes in the foreword to a new Pensions Board guide to employers’ PRSA obligations. The 20-page guide is the first of three that form part of the awareness campaign.

“This booklet will be a valuable tool for employers to help bring pension awareness into the workplace,” Coughlan says. There is a deadline of September 15 for companies to provide their staff with access to a standard PRSA.

So far there are 52 approved PRSA products, which are designed to be owned by an individual and are transferable between jobs. PRSAs are a type of defined contribution arrangement where the investment return is exempt of tax.