Dublin, 10th October 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has welcomed the increase to the state pension, announced as part of Budget 2018, but stated that the government needs to do more to support Ireland’s aging demographic.
ALONE partnered with a number of other aging charities, including Active Retirement Ireland, Age Action, Age and Opportunity, Senior Citizens Parliament and Third Age, for their pre-budget submission where they called for an increase in the state pension, household benefits and a focus on transport in rural areas.
Following today’s Budget 2018 announcement, Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “While we welcome the €5 increase to the pension, we have been campaigning for an indexing of the pension to ensure that its value is safeguarded for older people. This would end the yearly calls for pension increases and give older people fair financial independence.”
“Older people are highly dependent on the state pension and the vast majority rely on social welfare payments to protect them from poverty. There has to be particular concern for those living alone, those with incomplete contribution records who will not receive this increase – such as widows, carers, and people with long-term disability/illness.”
In terms of social benefits announced for older people, Moynihan commented, “Fuel allowance is to be increased but we would like to see it restored to a unit cost method. The new telephone support of €2.50 per week for those on the living alone and fuel allowance will enable older people to feel safe in their own homes but, again, not all older people will be entitled to this allowance. We would also like to see the Christmas bonus restored to 100%. This additional payment at Christmas time was abolished in 2008, a move which effectively took a full weekly social protection payment away.”
In response to the increased fund of €1.83 billion for housing in 2018, Moynihan commented, “We welcome this increase but there has been no mention of housing for older people or adaptive housing yet. If we focus on housing with supports for older people now, we won’t find ourselves in a situation of another housing crisis as the demographic continues to age.”
Following Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s announcement of a €90 million healthcare access plan that will ensure patients avail of medical care in the “most appropriate setting to them”, ALONE is hopeful that this will include homecare packages for older people. Moynihan said, “Studies show that 50% of older people waiting for, or sent to, nursing homes from hospital wished to remain at home and possibly could have done so, demonstrating the absolute need for there to be an increase in the home care budget to provide options for the older population across the country.”
Moynihan concluded, “ALONE will continue to campaign for the National Positive Aging Strategy, of which there was no mention in today’s Budget announcement. As Ireland’s older population is set to reach 1.4million over the next 30 years, supporting older people must be a priority for every government.”
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 visit www.alone.ie.