ALONE says Budget measures do not go far enough to support older people living alone now.
Charity warns that we need to spend money on older people now as well as save for future.
ALONE, the charity which enables older people to age at home says that while increases to the State pension are welcome, they will not go far enough to reduce poverty rates among older people living alone who are in poverty now.
ALONE welcomed the decision to develop a introduce the Future Ireland fund to meet long-term pension, healthcare and homecare costs but said the time to start planning and investing in our ageing population is now and even now is late.
Sean Moynihan CEO said “While this fund is welcome, there are more than one million people aged 60+ in Ireland today and this is going to increase in the years ahead. Our population of over 85’s more than doubled since 2000 and they need improved health care services now. We need to invest in housing, transport and healthcare for all older people today to ensure our services can meet this change in demand going forward, or else we will see continued crises in these sectors. We are also glad to see progress on the Commission on Care, and hope that the Commission will progress measures and issues beyond simply care in 2024 because many older people are healthy and well and need focus on areas like transport, suitable housing provision.”
1 in 3 people aged 65+ living alone experience income poverty, the highest rate of all households, and equivalent to roughly 63,000 older people nationwide. People aged 65+ living alone also had the lowest household income last year, at €16,840.
“Even with the one-off payments and the €12 pension increase, inflation will leave older people worse off in 2024 than this year. While any increase to the rates must always be welcomed, we must ask why Government have not provided security and certainty of income to older people when the state finances have never been in a better position. Our own survey among the older people we work with pointed to 9 in 10 saying that last year’s budget had no positive impact on them.” Seán Moynihan continued. “The many benefits of an ageing population for our country and society are being ignored for fear of the cost of future pension entitlements.”
The Roadmap for Social Inclusion committed to introducing benchmarking of the State Pension to 34% of average wages by Budget 2021. This would require an increase to the pension of almost €50. Now three years past the original deadline, ALONE has said that once again the Government has missed the opportunity to make structural changes to support older people.
“The Minister for Social Protection said earlier this year that benchmarking would be introduced as an input to the annual budget process and be submitted to Government in September each year, starting this year. Ireland is now the only country in the eurozone without a system of benchmarking the state pension. Where is the budget input on benchmarking promised by the Minister?”
“We look forward to examining the finer points of the budget in relation to transport, health, housing and loneliness.”