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.”
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