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ESRI report ignores shortage of housing for older people

Published 08/03/2016

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Age Action has criticised this morning’s report from the ESRI examining the suggestion that older people should be incentivised to move out of their homes. The organisation said the report ignores the lack of housing options available for many older people.

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “Today’s report from the ESRI on incentivising older people to move out of their homes seems to ignore the lack of choice faced by many older people.

“Successive Irish governments have failed to plan for our ageing population. The National Positive Ageing Strategy, which highlighted housing as a key priority, has been sitting on a shelf without an implementation plan for almost three years now.

“There is an enormous lack of step-down and sheltered housing options for older people in Ireland compared to what is available to our European neighbours.

“If we are serious about providing housing for people in later life we need to be building more sheltered housing communities, providing the kind of places where people are able to age with dignity and with the supports they need."

Age Action also highlighted the social challenges many older people face when downsizing.

Justin Moran: “Many older people struggle with loneliness and social exclusion. They don’t want to move out of homes where they know their neighbours, where they are close to family.

“There is an enormous sense of security, particularly for someone living alone, in knowing you have friends and neighbours nearby to check in and make sure you are okay.

“Moving away from those community supports is simply not something many older people are able to do.”

The organisation also questioned whether the impact of the proposal would be as positive as has been suggested.

Justin Moran continued: “An older person selling their home and seeking to downsize is going to be competing against first-time buyers looking for their starter homes.

“The very people this initiative is designed to help could find themselves priced out of the market.”

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.”