ALONE pre-budget submission calls for investment across housing, health and social protection departments

Press Release

Dublin, 28th September 2018  ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, has today outlined its pre-budget submission, which calls for action across the Department of Employment and Social Protection, Department of Health and Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

With home ownership dropping and more than one third of over-50s suffering from loneliness, ALONE believe it is vital that the Government takes measures to address the issues faced by an ageing population.

Among its submissions, the charity has identified four major issues affecting older adults, which demand government response:

  • Finance, pensions and benefits
  • Supply of appropriate housing
  • Cost of healthcare
  • Loneliness and social isolation

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said, “This year we will support 4,000 older people to age at home. Our submissions have arisen from what we have heard directly from the older people we work with. Budget 2019 is an opportunity to make meaningful steps in improving the lives of older people. ALONE’s work clearly demonstrates that effective, forward thinking government policies are required to prepare Ireland for our ageing population.”

 

Finance, Pension and Benefits

Finance is the third most common issue faced by older people who come to ALONE, following loneliness and housing.

ALONE is calling on the government to raise pension rates by €6.50 in Budget 2019, as part of a plan to bridge the gap between the current pension rate and the Contributory State Pension payment target of 35% of average earnings.

ALONE is also calling for:

  • Restoration of the Christmas Bonus to 100%
  • Increase in the Living Alone allowance to €14 a week
  • Restoration of the Fuel Allowance to 32 weeks and to maintain the current value

 

Housing Adaptation Grants

With the substantial shortage of residential accommodation, Ireland’s housing crisis is set to continue. The population of over 60s is expected to grow from 866,317 in 2016 to over 1.3 million in 2031.

Already, 20.7% (234,848) of older people have housing facility problems, which could include lack of an indoor flushing toilet, lack of a bath or shower, lack of downstairs bathroom facilities, and other issues. However, home adaptation grants are difficult to access for many older people as they require the person to have money up front to pay for building deposits. They also involve a lengthy application process, and the grants are not resourced to meet demand.

ALONE is calling for:

  • €84.5m per year over the next 10 years in grant funding through the Housing Aid for Older People scheme, with improved accessibility.

 

Cost of Healthcare

Along with more than 20 other organisations, ALONE is advocating for the right to homecare. The Government’s own Sláintecare report estimates that the cost of meeting unmet need in home care provision is €120 million.

While we work towards the right to homecare, ALONE is calling for Home Support Hours to be increased by at least 25 percent at a cost of €102 million.

ALONE is calling for:

  • €102 million funding for Home Support Hours.

 

Loneliness

More than one third of over-50s suffer from loneliness. Evidence highlights that older people experiencing high levels of loneliness are almost twice as likely to die within six years compared to those who are not lonely. ALONE has collaborated with Senator Keith Swanick to form the Loneliness Taskforce to coordinate a response to loneliness, and has offered recommendations to tackle loneliness and social isolation.

ALONE is calling for:

  • Annual funding of €3m towards combating loneliness, by running a public information campaign, supporting initiatives and organisation which alleviate loneliness, and funding Irish-specific research.

 

An independent charity, ALONE provides direct services through coordination of supports, befriending, information, phone services, technology, practical help and housing. The charity also supports over 50 organisations nationwide which ensures access to consistent, quality-assured and impact-proven services.

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or at www.alone.ie. The charity, which depends on donations from the public, has staff and volunteers ready to act on calls and requests for assistance.

 

ENDS

 

About ALONE

Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

 

For more information contact:

Lauren Freir, Limelight Communications, lauren.freir@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 087 238 0853

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 085 233 6033