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Older people demand Budget pension increase

Age Action is calling for the first increase in the State Pension since 2009 in Budget 2016.

The organisation, representing thousands of older people across Ireland, today set out its top five priorities for next month’s budget.

Budget 2016 | Age Action
Age Action has put forward its submissions for Budget 2016

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “Since 2009 an older person depending on the State Pension and the Household Benefits package has seen their income cut by more than €13 a week.

“They’re struggling to pay new taxes along with rising fuel and health costs. Pensioners in this country should not be forced to choose between paying for medicine and keeping the heat on.”

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

  • Increase the State Pension by €5
  • Increase the Living Alone Allowance by €2.40
  • Restore the Telephone Allowance over the next two budgets
  • An additional €26 million for Home Help Services
  • An additional €7 million for 550 Home Care Packages

Justin Moran continued: “Older people spent a lifetime building this country. They shouldered their share of the burden of austerity.

“As the economy returns to growth, they have a legitimate expectation that the sacrifices they made will be acknowledged.

“After years of cuts to income supports for older people, next month’s budget is an opportunity to restore value to a stagnant State Pension and to reverse cuts to vital income supports like the Telephone Allowance.”

Home supports

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

Since 2009 there has been a substantial reduction in home help hours despite the number of people aged 85 and over increasing by 11 per cent in the last three years.

Justin Moran continued: “In recent years there has been a 44 per cent increase in the number of older people in nursing homes categorised as ‘low dependency’ by the HSE.

“More home and community supports would enable many of these people to stay at home longer. That’s a better outcome for older people, it’s in line with Government policy and it would help to reduce the cost of the Nursing Home Support Scheme.” 

Along with its key priorities, Age Action also published detailed submissions it made to a number of individual government departments.

Age Action Budget 2016 Submission

Individual Submissions to Government Departments

Age Action Calls for €9 per week Rise In Old Age Pension in Budget 2020

Organisation also proposes that Government commission research on the Cost of Ageing to ensure policy meets needs of ageing population

Age Action, the advocacy organisation for older people, has called for the state’s Old Age Pension to increase by €9 per week in Budget 2020. The call was made at today’s Pre-Budget Forum, which is being organised by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and is being held in Dublin Castle’s Conference Centre.

Celine Clarke, Age Action’s Head of Advocacy and Communications, said that a €9 increase in the weekly Old Age Pension would be a key step in building towards the Government’s own commitment that the pension should be set at 35% of average weekly earnings.

“The National Pensions Framework was published almost 10 years ago and it committed the Government to benchmarking the Old Age Pension at 35% of average weekly earnings. In order to move the current pension payment towards the delivery of that target, we are calling on the Government to increase the weekly pension payment by €9,” Celine Clarke said.

Ms Clarke provided additional context to Age Action’s call for a €9 per week pension rise, when she explained that in 2009, the weekly income for pensioners depending on the State – when all the benefits were added together – was €265.44, this year it’s €273.63 – only €7.89 higher than it was higher than it was 10 years ago. 

“While pensions have increased by a welcome €5 per week over the last few years, there is no clear and transparent formula informing these increases, and Ireland is also unusual in setting the pension rate in the budget every year. Age Action is urging the Government to consider applying a triple lock formula for pension increases – namely, guaranteeing that the basic State pension will rise by a minimum of either 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth, whichever is the larger.”

In addition to the proposals on pension increases, Age Action is also calling for:

  • The commissioning of research by Government on the Cost of Ageing to inform the development of policy so that the country can meet the needs of our ageing population – a similar exercise has been carried out in relation to the Cost of Disability;
  • Increase the income threshold for all means-tested benefits in line with increases to the Old Age Pension and secondary benefits;
  • Increase the Living Alone Allowance by €5 per week;
  • Increase the Fuel Allowance rate by €2.35 and reintroduce a 32-week payment period.

Pre-Budget Submission to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

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