IRELAND – Ireland’s SIPTU union has called for the government to take “radical action” in the forthcoming budget to encourage workers to make earlier pension provision.

“SIPTU has urged the government to ‘take radical action in the forthcoming Budget to encourage workers to make earlier pensions provision than has been the case to date’,” the Services, Industrial, Professional, Technical Union said in a statement.

It called for lower rate tax-payers to have a refundable tax credit - likening the plan to current tax credits for mortgage interest relief.

And it called for a ‘pension start-up bonus’. This would be payable with every young person’s final monthly Child Benefit payment.

SIPTU said this should be equivalent to six months’ child benefit, 753.6 euros, and should be paid directly into a pension or personal retirement savings account, or PRSA.

SIPTU’s national equality secretary, Rosheen Callender, said: “Ideally, pensions provision should start at birth; and a truly far-sighted government might consider dramatically raising Child Benefit and starting mandatory pension contributions from the time of the first, rather than the last, payment of this universal benefit!

Callender, who is a member of the Pensions Board, added: “However, as a first step towards securing future pensions for every citizen, we urge serious consideration of the two proposals outlined above, as precursors for greater flexibility about retirement ages in future.”

She added that SIPTU has set up its own SIPTU PRSA. The union is urging workers who have no occupational scheme to join as soon as possible. SIPTU represents more than 200,000 Irish workers.