Brexit pensions saved after deal between Irish and UK governments

The governments of Ireland and Britain have guaranteed the continued payment of state pensions, child benefit and other social welfare payments in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Thousands of people living here get pensions and other payments from Britain, while Ireland also pays people who live in the UK.

Now a legally binding agreement has been signed by the two governments.

It is estimated that around 133,000 people living here, mainly Irish citizens, are recipients of pensions from the UK.

The Irish Government pays contributory pensions to 29,000 people living in Britain.

Child benefit payments from here also flow to the UK.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and her UK counterpart, Amber Rudd, the UK secretary of state for work and pensions, signed a convention at the start of the month to ensure the “reciprocity of social welfare rights and entitlements”.

These rights currently exist under what is known as the common travel area.

Ms Doherty said: “Under the terms of the agreement, all existing arrangements, with recognition of, and access to, social welfare entitlements will be maintained in both jurisdictions.

“This means that the rights of Irish citizens domiciled in Ireland to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in the UK and to access social insurance payments if resident in the UK are protected.”

The deal has to be ratified by the Dáil, but that is thought to be a formality.

A spokesperson for Ms Doherty said the Government had been planning for a no-deal Brexit, ahead of the March 29 deadline for the UK’s exit from the EU.

However, there are still fears for the continued smooth payment of British private pensions after Brexit.

Correspondence from one pension provider advised its Ireland-based recipients to open UK bank accounts to avoid the loss of payments.

Pension Insurance Corporation told members here: “As it stands, insurance providers may not be able to continue paying out to overseas bank accounts after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.”

The massive insurer, which pays pensions to 150,000 people in the UK and Ireland, said if a deal on future banking arrangements is not reached by March, it “will need to pay your pension into a UK bank account”.

Asked why people here could not be paid by cheque, a spokesman for Pension Insurance Corporation said: “We are investigating contingency plans and talking to the appropriate regulators.”

Jerry Moriarty, chief executive of the Irish Association of Pension Funds, said people here with private pensions from the UK should still get paid if there is a no-deal Brexit as it is their legal entitlement to receive the payments.

However, some British insurers may not continue to pay the pensions into an Irish bank account.

Mr Moriarty said: “Under European Union rules, you have a right to have your pension paid into any member state, but no one has a clue how this will work out when Britain leaves the EU.”

He added that this was because having a pension coming from another EU country paid into an account in the EU state where you live was an entitlement bound up with EU membership.

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