Age Action today urged the Government not to proceed with planned changes to the Travel Pass for older people, warning that any negative changes to the scheme would be vehemently opposed by older people.
“This is a scheme which is working well and is highly valued by older people as a key support which enables them to live independently and with dignity,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said. “Any attempt to meddle with, or water-down, the scheme would create a whole new set of problems for Ireland’s ageing population.”
The comments came at the launch of the older people’s charity’s “Hands Off Our Travel Passes” campaign, which aims to rally support against any negative changes to the scheme. The Government is currently reviewing the travel pass scheme and a decision is expected in the near future. It is considering one of three changes:
- To introduce an annual charge for the travel pass;
- To limit the times at which it can be used;
- To restrict the forms of transport on which it can be used.
Age Action has surveyed 500 of our members across Ireland who highlighted how important their travel passes were for carrying out everyday tasks such as getting their shopping, collecting their pensions, attending medical appointments, visiting family and friends, social activities.
Significantly, without their travel passes they said they would not be able to attend medical/health appointments (57%), shop (55%), carry out personal journeys (eg to the bank or post office, 43%) or visit family or friends (61%). It is also important for the domestic tourism industry with 60% of older people using their pass to go on a holiday or short break. For further details readhttp://www.ageaction.ie/sites/default/files/pdf/Briefing%20document.pdf
“We carried out this research so that our policy makers can understand the importance of the travel pass and how older people use it,” Mr Timmins said. “We don’t want a repeat of last year’s Budget when the Government abolished the telephone allowance for older people without realising that many older people used their phone for the pendant alarm service.”
The travel pass is greatly valued by older people, who feel very strongly that it should not be interfered with. “Any negative changes to the scheme would be vehemently opposed by older people,” Mr Timmins warned.
The “Hands Off Our Travel Passes” campaign aims to rally political support to protect the travel pass scheme. “We need the public’s help to get the support of all of our TDs and local politicians,” he said. “We are asking every TD, Senator and councillor to confirm their support to protect the travel pass scheme from any negative changes.” They can confirm their support in two ways:
- Email email@example.com , stating their name and constituency;
- Download the “I Support” poster here (link to “I Support” poster PDF) from the Age Action website (www.ageaction.ie/travel-pass) print it out, take a photograph of themselves with it and email that photo to firstname.lastname@example.org We will post it on our Facebook page.
Each week we will provide an updated list of who is supporting the campaign on our website. “If your TD, Senator or councillor is not on that list, ask them why,” Mr Timmins said. “Everyone has a role to play in ensuring this important support for older people is protected.”