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Press Release

Pension Inequality Firmly on the Election 2020 Campaign Agenda

Age Action joined the SIPTU led coalition of non-governmental organisations for the launch of the STOP67 campaign in Dublin today (Thursday, 23rd January) which aims to halt the increase of the state pension age for workers to 67 from next year in order to address inequalities in the pension system.

Speaking at the formal campaign launch in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “STOP67 is the SIPTU campaign to stop the increase of the state pension age to 67 on 1st January, 2021.

“SIPTU representatives are not surprised this is a major general election issue. We have been hearing from our members since the abolition of the transitional pension scheme in 2014 about the difficulties that the retirement gap has been causing for workers. This includes the absolute indignity of people coming up to 65 years of age who are expecting to get their pension and having to sign on the dole.”

National Women’s Council of Ireland Director, Orla O’Connor, said: “This is a core issue for women. Women rely on the state pension for the vast majority of their income in older age. So, anything that impacts on state pensions disproportionally impacts on women.”

Age Action Chief Executive, Paddy Connolly, said: “This campaign is not only about stopping the rise of the pension age to 67 but also the creation of a stakeholder forum which will consider issues such as finances, age discrimination and others that effect people in their retirement.”

Active Retirement Ireland chief executive, Maureen Kavanagh, said: “Ireland has the youngest population but the highest prospective retirement age in the EU. We are not under the demographic pressure of other countries. Retirement is a great part of life but it has to be voluntary, flexible and appropriate. We can’t force people out of a job that they love, or to stay in their job.”

SIPTU General Secretary, Joe Cunningham, called on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to make clear their position on the pensions issue.

He added: “All the other political parties are supporting the ‘STOP67’ campaign. The big two parties must make their position clear.”

Age Action & Active Retirement Ireland call people to vote for reform, not promises!

Put Older People at the Heart of the Next Government

 

Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland today launched their General Election 2020 manifesto.

The two leading organisations representing older people in Ireland are critical of pre-election promises that do not represent real change for older people and a fairer society for us all as we age.

Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland said, ‘The priority issues for the next government; health, housing, climate change and social welfare reform affect us all, including older people. We want people to vote for the political parties who are committed to ensuring the voice of older people is heard. Our members nationwide are demanding a voice at the table. A senior Minister for Older People is their number one demand.’

She continued, ‘our members want a Government that is committed to delivering an older person’s strategy across all Government departments. They want a Government that can demonstrate it is listening to their voice.’

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action said, ‘the current debate on pension reform and the sudden about face of TDs in Government and political parties highlights the lack of focus and planning for our ageing population. Real pension reform would benchmark and index the pension in line with international good practice in tandem with leading the way to abolish discriminatory work practices including mandatory retirement clauses. A Government that is concerned for older people would ensure free travel is protected and rural transport is developed so that older people don’t become isolated.”

A key issue for members of both organisations is pension reform. Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland want the next Government not to introduce the planned increase in the pension age to 67 in 2021 because of the disjointed and poor approach to planning which is disproportionately impacting on older people.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said “Despite wide-ranging pension policy changes in recent years across the State pension age, method of calculation, rate and supplementary pensions, Government has provided no information as to how and when these will take effect.  As a result, people planning for - and coming imminently close to - retirement are left unaware of what pension they will qualify for and whether they will have sufficient time to plan for income security once they retire.”

Age Action and Active retirement Ireland have also called for the next Government to prioritise the commitment to introduce a new statutory homecare scheme in 2021, address the current waiting list for home supports and commission research on the cost of ageing to inform Ireland’s policy development that meets the needs of an ageing population.

Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland Priority Asks for General Election 2020

  1. Appoint a senior Minister for Older People

       Addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of ageing requires a whole-of-Government approach. Appoint a senior Minister for Older People, within the Department of An Taoiseach, with priority actions of developing a strategy that will respond to the needs of our ageing demographic.

  1. Depoliticise the State pension

       Indexing of current and future pension rates facilitates proper planning, it provides peace of mind for older workers and crucially it depoliticises the budget process. The next Government should benchmark the State Pension to 34% of average weekly earnings and apply a triple lock which guarantees that the basic rate rises each year by a minimum of 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth (whichever is the largest).

  1. Suspend the planned increase in the state pension age to 67 in 2021

       In the context of proposed increases to the State pension ages in the near future and the on-going lack of clarity around the new rules, it is simply not fair to raise the State pension age without adequate time for us all to prepare. The increase in the pension age to 68 will mean a cut of nearly 10% in pension income over a person’s lifetime in retirement.

  1. Appoint a Commissioner for Ageing with statutory powers to support their mandate

       Many older people feel left behind in the eyes of policymakers. An independent champion and advisor to government in the form of a Commissioner for Ageing is vital to promote cohesive, efficient, best practice government policy and services for our ageing population.

5.     Take ambitious climate action consistent with climate justice to protect people and the planet

      Climate action policies must be designed in such a way that the people and communities most vulnerable to negative impacts are identified and given voice so that measures are put in place to protect them and to enable them to reap the benefits of climate action.

ENDS

 

Are you a Lucky Raffle Winner?

Thanks to everyone who supported our Winter Warmer Raffle this Christmas!

The Raffle Winners have been drawn and the lucky winners are;

1st Prize: €1,500 - Joann Galvin, Dublin 15

2nd Prize: €1,000 - Esther Purcell, Kilkenny

3rd Prize: €500 - Deirdre Cahalan, Tipperary

Sellers Prize: €100 – Aine Reilly, Cork

If you would like to be included in future Age Action raffles to be in with a chance of winning a prize, please email fundraising@ageaction.ie or call 01 475 6989

To support Age Action’s work this Christmas donate at www.ageaction.ie/donate-now

Easter Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Easter Raffle and a heartfelt thank you to all who supported the raffle!

Easter Raffle 2019 Winners

1st Prize €1500
P Dunne
Dun Laoghaire

2nd Prize €1000
C Gordon
Dublin 12

3rd Prize €500
E Byrne
Portlaoise

Sellers €100
K O’Sullivan
Dublin 16

 

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.”

Budget 2019

Budget 2019

Age Action calls for a fair budget on 9th October that protects older people

Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people, has called on the Government to protect the incomes of older people and to invest in home care.

“Next week the Government must deliver a budget which protects older people, one that recognises the contribution made over decades by more than 600,000 workers, homemakers, carers and entrepreneurs who are now pensioners” said Anna McCabe, Interim CEO, Age Action.

Publishing its top priorities for Budget 2019 the organisation is highlighting the need to increase the state pension to meet the rising costs of living for older people and to tackle inadequate home care provision.

Rising Costs of Living

“Pensioners are increasingly worried about being able to pay their essential bills or of being forced into a nursing home because there are no home supports available” said Anna McCabe, Interim CEO, Age Action.

She went on “A growing number of older people worry about making ends meet in the face of rising costs such as healthcare, energy bills and insurance. Many of these increased costs are solely related to age.”

Older people are slow to benefit from the improved economic climate and are showing a slower recovery from poverty. Cuts made in recent years to income supports such as the Fuel Allowance, the Bereavement Grant and the Christmas Bonus, combined with new taxes and rising prices, are causing many older people to remain at risk of poverty.

Earlier this year hundreds of Age Action members met across the country and agreed their priorities for this year’s budget, which have been costed and published today:

  1. Increase the weekly State Pension by €5 per week to build towards achieving the Government's commitment in the National Pensions Framework of a State Pension set at 35 per cent of average weekly earnings [Cost: €160.9 million]
  2. Increase the cost of the Living Alone Allowance by €3 per week [Cost: €32.8 million]
  3. Reverse the changes introduced in 2012 to the State Pension system reducing the number of bands from six to four [Cost: €73 million]
  4. Increase the Home Supports budget by 26% to begin to meet unmet need. [Cost: €106 million].
  5. As a first step towards reinstating the over 70s medical card, expand the range of services provided by the GP visit card to include prescriptions to those over 70 [Cost: €61.5 million].
  6. Remove the GMS prescription charge for over 70s medical card holders [Cost: €42 - 44 million]

Crisis in Homecare

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

The numbers of home help hours and people in receipt of the service have dropped since 2008, despite the sharp growth in our ageing population.

“Every year 20,000 more people turn 65, and we will need an additional 7.2 million Home Help Hours a year by 2030. This unmet need is particularly worrying given that 6,458 older people were waiting for new and additional Home Support services as of May of this year” said Anna McCabe.

Ireland needs a Statutory Home Care Scheme

“Home help hours and home care packages are simply not available in many parts of the country, with provision of care varying greatly across the regions. This means many older people simply do not have the option of being cared for at home, more families are struggling to cope without home help, and there is more pressure on carers.”

“We need a functioning home care scheme now.”

Along with its key priorities, Age Action also published detailed submissions it made to a number of individual government departments, which are available online at www.ageaction.ie/budget2019 ### For more information contact Corona Joyce 087 968 2449 or advocacy@ageaction.ie

 

Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Raffle. We're so grateful to everyone who participated and who raised more than 18,000 euro to support older people in Ireland.

This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

2nd Prize winner €1,000

A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.

 

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