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Minister lends a helping hand to keep older people warm this winter

Published 08/12/2017

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OFTEC Ireland, Age Action and Jim Daly TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, officially launched a free guide, offering key advice to help older people using oil home heating to stay safe and warm throughout the winter period.

Minister Jim Daly TD with Age Action's Justin Moran and David Blevings from OFTEC
Minister Jim Daly TD with Age Action's Justin Moran and David Blevings from OFTEC

The Keeping Warm this Winter guide, which is being distributed throughout Ireland, was created by OFTEC, which represents the domestic oil heating and cooking industry in Ireland, in conjunction with Age Action.

Following the success of the campaign over the past three years, Minister Daly TD is lending his support for the first time to highlight the important issue of excess winter deaths and inform those at greatest risk how they can remain safe and warm this winter.

The winter season can often be a difficult time of year for older people within communities, both in terms of weather and loneliness. Everyone is encouraged to pick up a guide and visit elderly relatives and neighbours.

Whilst this will provide older people with as much information as possible to help them save money and keep warm this winter, it also provides them with the support and comfort of knowing a friendly face is on hand to help.

Check in on neighbours

Jim Daly TD, Minister of State Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People said: “I would like to take the opportunity to endorse and support the "Keeping Warm this Winter" campaign. This free guide offers key advice to help older people to stay safe and warm throughout the winter period.

“I urge our older people to keep their homes warm and to eat well. It is essential that older people are not afraid to ask for and accept help from friends, family and neighbours when offered.

“Finally, I would like to ask our communities to be extra aware of their older neighbours this winter. We often assume that if someone needs help they will ask, or that someone else will check in with them. During this festive period and the whole winter, let's not wait to be asked or for someone else to do it.”

Age Action will be distributing the guide throughout its network of offices and shops and the guide is available free of charge. Alternatively, a digital copy is available to download from both the OFTEC and Age Action websites.

David Blevings, Ireland Manager of OFTEC, said: “The important issue of supporting older people in winter across Ireland is always a firm focus for us at OFTEC and we are thrilled to launch the campaign with Age Action again, along with Minister of State Jim Daly TD in 2017.

“Approximately 700,000 homes in Ireland using heating oil as their primary heating source. Yet even though oil is one of the cheapest forms of home heating that does not mean it should be used inefficiently. By availing of a service by an OFTEC registered technician you can ensure your elderly relatives’ boiler will run safely, efficiently and cost-effectively over the winter period.”

Keep fuel bills low

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications with Age Action said: “Many of the most vulnerable older people rely on oil heating to keep warm. But with high numbers of older households struggling to afford the fuel they need, it’s essential that people know what they can do to keep their fuel bills low and stay warm over the cold winter months.

The guide is a great source of information for older people to enable them to maximise the potential of their home heating, without maximising on cost. We are delighted to support this initiative for a fourth year and to work with OFTEC to continue to promote health and wellbeing for older people across Ireland.”

David Blevings added: “There are also grants available under the Better Energy Homes Scheme from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for those with older, inefficient oil boilers and the details are contained within the guide.

Our registered technicians can help older people to take advantage of the grants while they are still available to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency.”

For more information visit www.oftec.org or www.oilsave.org

To find your nearest registered technician visit www.oftec.org/Consumers/FindTechnician   

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Age Action & Active Retirement Ireland call people to vote for reform, not promises!

Put Older People at the Heart of the Next Government

 

Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland today launched their General Election 2020 manifesto.

The two leading organisations representing older people in Ireland are critical of pre-election promises that do not represent real change for older people and a fairer society for us all as we age.

Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland said, ‘The priority issues for the next government; health, housing, climate change and social welfare reform affect us all, including older people. We want people to vote for the political parties who are committed to ensuring the voice of older people is heard. Our members nationwide are demanding a voice at the table. A senior Minister for Older People is their number one demand.’

She continued, ‘our members want a Government that is committed to delivering an older person’s strategy across all Government departments. They want a Government that can demonstrate it is listening to their voice.’

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action said, ‘the current debate on pension reform and the sudden about face of TDs in Government and political parties highlights the lack of focus and planning for our ageing population. Real pension reform would benchmark and index the pension in line with international good practice in tandem with leading the way to abolish discriminatory work practices including mandatory retirement clauses. A Government that is concerned for older people would ensure free travel is protected and rural transport is developed so that older people don’t become isolated.”

A key issue for members of both organisations is pension reform. Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland want the next Government not to introduce the planned increase in the pension age to 67 in 2021 because of the disjointed and poor approach to planning which is disproportionately impacting on older people.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said “Despite wide-ranging pension policy changes in recent years across the State pension age, method of calculation, rate and supplementary pensions, Government has provided no information as to how and when these will take effect.  As a result, people planning for - and coming imminently close to - retirement are left unaware of what pension they will qualify for and whether they will have sufficient time to plan for income security once they retire.”

Age Action and Active retirement Ireland have also called for the next Government to prioritise the commitment to introduce a new statutory homecare scheme in 2021, address the current waiting list for home supports and commission research on the cost of ageing to inform Ireland’s policy development that meets the needs of an ageing population.

Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland Priority Asks for General Election 2020

  1. Appoint a senior Minister for Older People

       Addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of ageing requires a whole-of-Government approach. Appoint a senior Minister for Older People, within the Department of An Taoiseach, with priority actions of developing a strategy that will respond to the needs of our ageing demographic.

  1. Depoliticise the State pension

       Indexing of current and future pension rates facilitates proper planning, it provides peace of mind for older workers and crucially it depoliticises the budget process. The next Government should benchmark the State Pension to 34% of average weekly earnings and apply a triple lock which guarantees that the basic rate rises each year by a minimum of 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth (whichever is the largest).

  1. Suspend the planned increase in the state pension age to 67 in 2021

       In the context of proposed increases to the State pension ages in the near future and the on-going lack of clarity around the new rules, it is simply not fair to raise the State pension age without adequate time for us all to prepare. The increase in the pension age to 68 will mean a cut of nearly 10% in pension income over a person’s lifetime in retirement.

  1. Appoint a Commissioner for Ageing with statutory powers to support their mandate

       Many older people feel left behind in the eyes of policymakers. An independent champion and advisor to government in the form of a Commissioner for Ageing is vital to promote cohesive, efficient, best practice government policy and services for our ageing population.

5.     Take ambitious climate action consistent with climate justice to protect people and the planet

      Climate action policies must be designed in such a way that the people and communities most vulnerable to negative impacts are identified and given voice so that measures are put in place to protect them and to enable them to reap the benefits of climate action.

ENDS