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Government must act to protect vulnerable customers if gas price hike is approved

Published 09/08/2013

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Age Action has warned that if the Commission for Energy Regulation grants the 7.22% price hike being sought by Bord Gais for its domestic customers it will cause further hardship for many older people this winter.

“Some older people are still paying off fuel large bills which were run up during the cold Spring,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said.  “If gas prices rise by a further 7.22% it will leave an increased number of older people having to choose between food and fuel in the coming months.”

The older people’s charity believes the Government must act if the price increase is granted.  “The Government must live up to its commitment to protect the most vulnerable by reversing the fuel support cuts introduced in recent Budgets and ensuring that  every older person can afford to heat their home to a safe level,” he said.

Ireland has an excess winter death rate of between 1,500 and 2,000 deaths.  Many of these are older people who are dying from cold-related illnesses.  The high cost of energy is one of the factors contributing to these deaths.

In its pre-Budget submission, the older people’s charity highlighted the impact which the cumulative effect of successive austerity budgets were having on older people.  “While the State Pension has not increased since 2008, in the intervening period the price of gas has risen by 25.9%,” Mr Timmins said. “Now Bord Gais are seeking further increases.”

Age Action’s pre-Budget submission can be read at www.ageaction.ie/budget-2014

 

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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