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Government must keep pension promise in budget

Published 21/07/2016

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Age Action has today urged the Government to keep the promise made in the Fine Gael election manifesto to Ireland’s pensioners. 

The organisation made the call ahead of a pre-Budget forum in Dublin today with the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar TD and his department’s senior officials.

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “Fine Gael campaigned on a clear promise to older voters to increase the State Pension by €25 over a full term of office.

“We’re urging the Government to show it will keep its promise by increasing the State Pension by €5 in October’s budget.”

Age Action members campaigning for a fair State Pension
Age Action members campaigning for a fair State Pension

Austerity budgets

During a succession of austerity budgets since 2009 pensioners saw their income drop by more than €13 a week. While there was a small increase in the State Pension last year, it fell far short of restoring the incomes of older people.

Justin Moran continued: “The incomes of older people have still not recovered from a succession of austerity budgets.

“The Telephone Allowance was abolished. The Fuel Allowance and the Household Benefit Package were cut. At the same time older people have struggled to stretch a small, fixed, income to cope with rising prescription charges and the introduction of the property tax. 

“As well as an increase in the State Pension, Age Action will be prioritising reversing the cuts to the Fuel Allowance and increasing the Living Alone Allowance to help lone pensioners.

“Older people spent a lifetime building this country. They shouldered their share of the austerity burden. As the economy returns to growth, they have a legitimate expectation that the sacrifices they made will be acknowledged.”

Full List of Age Action Recommendations

1. Increase the weekly State Pension by €5 per week, in line with the commitment made in the Fine Gael manifesto, to continue to restore real value to this important payment and to build towards achieving the Government’s objective of a State Pension set at 35 per cent of average weekly earnings [Cost: €130 million].

2. Restore the full Telephone Allowance over the next two budgets. In Budget 2017 we recommend that the cut introduced in October 2013 is reversed with Budget 2018 reintroducing the full Telephone Allowance [Cost: €48 million].

3. Increase the Living Alone Allowance by €3 per week [Cost: €30 million].

4. Ensure the final 25 per cent of the Christmas Bonus is restored as a double‐week payment for Christmas 2016 for all social welfare recipients [Cost €67 million].

5. Restore the Bereavement Grant [Cost: €20.5 million].

6. Begin to reverse the six weeks cut from the Fuel Allowance by extending the scheme by four weeks in Budget 2016 [€35 million].

7. Allow those in receipt of the Fuel Allowance to receive it in the form of two lump sum payments if they are using home heating oil [Administrative cost in 2017 only].

8. Increase the funding for the Free Travel Scheme by €3 million to make it more attractive for operators to join and to ensure that it continues to address passenger needs [Cost: €3 million].

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A Fair Society for All? Listening to the Voices of Older People

Often, inequalities experienced by older people reflect an accumulated disadvantage which can be as a result of factors such as socio-economic status, health, gender, location. How existing inequalities impact on us as we age is something we in Age Action explored through a panel discussion 10 September – A Fair Society For All? Listening to the Voice of Older People – in Croke Park, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting 2019.

An audience of over 160 people, including members of Age Action and people working in the ageing sector, joined the conversatoin which included a panel disucssion moderated by the CEO Paddy Connolly. The discussion centred on a discussion paper, Equality for All - Older People for Equality, published by Age Action in advance.The  panel set the scene with inputs from Michael Taft, Economist and political economy columnist, Colette Bennett, Policy Analyst Social Justice Ireland, Deirdre Garvey, CEO The Wheel, Ailbhe Smith, Co-Director of Together for Yes.