Age Action is concerned but not surprised by today’s CSO report which shows marked rises in poverty among older people and a fall in their average income between 2009 and 2011.
“The fact that the average income of people aged over 65 fell by 5%, combined with the rise in poverty levels over such a short period, only shows part of the difficulties which many older people are currently facing,” according to the spokesperson for the older people’s charity Eamon Timmins. “On the other side of the equation there are new charges and rising prices which have to be met from these declining incomes. These increase taxes, charges and costs have escalated since these statistics were gathered, leaving many older people seriously struggling to make ends meet.”
The CSO’s Thematic Report on the Elderly uses findings from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions from 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2011. It shows that the consistent poverty rate among older people has risen from 1.1% to 1.9% between 2009 and 2011. The deprivation rate has increased from 9.5% to 11.3% over the same period.
The average gross weekly equalised income has fallen 5% to €407.28. The main factors driving down income include falling earnings and reduced occupational pensions. The report shows that among those hit hardest are those living alone, women and those living in rural areas.
“Age Action is not surprised that the poverty indicators for older people are rising, with financial pressures increasing substantially on older people in the last 18 months,” Mr Timmins said. “Property tax, a trebling of the prescription charge and soaring energy prices are just some of the increased costs which have been introduced since 2011, with older people having to pay them from a declining income. The increased costs are on unavoidable elements of their cost of living – a roof over their head, essential medication and heat.”
A number of older people told Age Action during its national pre-Budget consultation earlier this year how they were left to choose between food and fuel during the pro-longed winter and Spring this year. The inability to afford to heat a home or the inability to afford an adequate diet are among the poverty indicators used to calculate the deprivation rate.
“The cumulative effect of multiple cuts on one side and rising cost and taxes on the other, is hurting many older people and must be addressed by the Government in the October budget,” Mr Timmins said.