Age Action highlights ‘huge strain’ of cuts on older people

Charity’s pre-budget submission calls for increases in pension and living-alone allowance

New charges and cuts to allowances have had ‘real impact’, says charity. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

New charges and cuts to allowances have had ‘real impact’, says charity. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Older people feel angry and frustrated about the “myth” that they have been insulated from austerity, Age Action Ireland will say today.

Presenting its pre-budget submission, the charity will say that while the State pension has not been reduced, the impact of cuts and restrictions on other supports has “put a huge strain” on older people, with increasing numbers unable to afford basic goods and services.

Many are struggling with increased and new charges, such as the property tax and water charges, while the costs of home heating and healthcare have also gone up.

Age Action points to an increase in the cost of fuel since 2009, with electricity up by 13 per cent and gas by 6.5 per cent. Hospital fees have gone up by 14 per cent, they say.

“Many members spoke about the loss of the medical card and the impact that this has on their ability to access timely health and social care,” says the pre-budget submission.

“While it must be acknowledged that the Government protected the basic State pension rate during the recession” it added, “cuts to the Christmas bonus, the electricity and fuel allowances and the abolition of the telephone allowance have had a real impact on the lives of older people.”

Age Action says that between 2009 and 2013, the percentage of older people living in deprivation increased from 9.5 per cent to 16.1 per cent – just under 100,000 people.

The charity is calling for an increase in the State pension, which has remained unchanged since 2009, as one of its top five priorities.

It is also seeking an increase of €2.40 in the living-alone allowance, from €9 a week.

While it was increased in the most recent budget, “it falls far short of what is needed for a minimum essential standard of living”.

The charity is also calling for the restoration, over the next two budgets, of the telephone allowance, which was worth €9.50 per household per month until it was discontinued in January 2014.