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Budget 2017 must deliver on pension pledge

Age Action has called on the Government to deliver on its election commitment to raise the State Pension by €25 over five years by providing a €5 increase in Budget 2017.

Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people today set out its top priorities for next month’s budget.

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “Growing old in Ireland shouldn’t mean growing afraid, but it does.

“Pensioners are afraid of losing their home because of rising property taxes. They’re afraid of getting sick and relying on an ailing public health system.

“They’re afraid of being unable to afford medicine or to heat their homes. They’re afraid of going into a nursing home because there is no community care available.

“In February of this year, older people were promised that the State Pension would be increased by €25 a year over the next five years.

“Budget 2017 is the Government’s opportunity to make clear to almost 600,000 people over the age of 65 that the promises made to them will be honoured.”

During the summer hundreds of Age Action members met across the country and agreed their priorities for this year’s budget:

  • Increase the State Pension by €5;
  • Restore the Fuel Allowance and Telephone Allowance over the next two budgets;
  • An additional €73.8 million to fund 4.1 million home help hours;
  • The abolition of prescription charges for medical card holders.

Justin Moran continued: “The National Pensions Framework says that the State Pension should be maintained at 35 per cent of average earnings to keep pensioners out of poverty.

“But the State Pension is more than €13 below that target. More than 85,000 people over the age of 65 are living in deprivation and that number is rising.  

“Next month the Government can help to restore the incomes of pensioners, cut by successive austerity budgets, stand by its election pledge and deliver for our senior citizens.” 

Home supports

Age Action also highlighted the need for investment in supports to enable older people to remain longer in their homes.

Between 2004 and 2013 there was a 44 per cent increase in the number of older people living in nursing homes classified by the HSE as being ‘low dependency’. Funding for home help services fell from €211 million in 2011 to €185 million last year despite rising demand.

Justin Moran continued: “Our community care system is in crisis. Government policy says that we must support people to stay at home as long as possible.

“But the practice is to push more and more older people into nursing homes to the point that Ireland has the second highest proportion of people aged 65 and over in nursing homes and hospitals.

“The only way this is going to change is with a substantial increase in funding for home help services in this October’s budget and Age Action members will be making sure this message is heard."

As well as identifying the top priorities for older people in Budget 2017, Age Action also made individual submissions to a number of Government departments.

Age Action Welcomes the launch of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population Policy Statement

Responding to today’s launch of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population Policy Statement, Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation  said;

“This is a welcome joint initiative by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Health because it begins to address the needs of our ageing population in terms of ageing in place.  The commitment to provide real choice to people through a catalogue of housing with supports is welcome, especially the recognition that an ageing population has diverse needs.”

He continued “Age Action believes that we should have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer. The wider support needs of people as we age was to be addressed through the National Positive Ageing Strategy which was published in 2013 and is yet to be implemented.”