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Budget 2016 – Age Action reaction

Published 13/10/2015

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Age Action has reacted to today’s budget announcement, welcoming the first increase in the State Pension in seven years and increases in other income supports. But the organisation also highlighted the lack of progress on home supports and the failure to cut prescription charges.

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications, said: “Since 2009 an older person on the State Pension and Household Benefits Package has seen their weekly income cut by more than €13 a week. Almost a hundred thousand older people are living in deprivation.

“All of that cannot be fixed at once and what we have seen in Budget 2016 is a substantial step in the right direction.

“The first State Pension increase in seven years, welcome increases in the Christmas Bonus and the Fuel Allowance, will make a real difference to older people across the country.

More needs to be done

“But more needs to be done. Older people are still facing real hardship. We’re disappointed not to have heard anything so far about restoring the Telephone Allowance and particularly disappointed to have heard nothing yet on prescription charges. 

“These have risen 500 per cent since they were introduced and hit older people, who might have multiple prescriptions, particularly hard. It’s simply a tax on sick people.

“But overall, today we are moving in the right direction with some welcome announcements. It’s important that the next government keeps up the momentum.”

Fair Deal

Referring to the Government’s announcement on increased funding for the Fair Deal Scheme to keep waiting lists to four weeks, Mr Moran added: “Waiting lists for Fair Deal hit 15 weeks last October.

“Funding to keep waiting times to four weeks is undoubtedly welcome, but we would also need increased investment in home care and home helps.

“Given the choice, older people prefer to stay at home in their community, with their family, rather than go into a nursing home. The home supports that would enable thousands of them to do so are not there and the Government must prioritise this area.”

For more information contact Justin Moran on 087 968 2449

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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.”