Age Action urges steps to help the elderly and carers
Age Action Ireland has called on the Government to reform the VAT system and to use dormant accounts for services for older people and their carers.
In a pre-Budget submission, Age Action has recommended a number of steps to enable older people to live independently in the community for as long as possible and to finance organisations supporting them.
"We object to people being excluded merely because of chronological age," Mr Paul Murray of Age Action told The Irish Times. "When the Budget is drawn up, older people should not be at the butt-end of social policy.
"We want VAT reduced on essential items as it affects things that older people buy such as appliances," Mr Murray said.
He cited walking sticks as an example of essential items classed as luxury goods. "The basic VAT rate of 21 per cent is higher than most of our European partners," Mr Murray noted. He called on the Government to "reform the VAT system whereby you could save up a proportion of that for older people".
Mr Murray said older people tended to be excluded from many government policies. Current policy excluded women over 64 years of age from receiving breast checks and people over 65 were not covered by the Employment Equality Act 1998, he added.
The Back to Education scheme run by the Department of Social and Family Affairs also stopped at age 65.
"The more you provide sheltered housing, the less uptake of nursing home care services," Mr Murray pointed out.
"The current Irish uptake of nursing home care is 5 per cent in Ireland. There is huge demand for sheltered housing in Ireland right now."
Age Action is also recommending an increase in the living alone allowance, introducing a non-means-tested care payment for full-time carers and increasing the number of sheltered housing for older people.