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Age Action response to Budget 2019

Published 09/10/2018


For immediate release – Tuesday 9 October 2018


Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people, has cautiously welcomed the increase in the State Pension and other income supports for older people announced in today’s budget.



State Pension and other income supports

Anna McCabe, Interim CEO, said: “An increase in the State Pension was overwhelmingly the top priority for our members in Budget 2019.

“An increasing number of older people on a fixed income are finding it difficult to pay essential daily bills in the context of current taxes and rising prices. This makes today’s pension increase all the more vital and we are pleased the Government is delivering its promise to reverse the damage to older people’s incomes from previous austerity Budgets.”

However, the organisation expressed its disappointment at the decision to delay the pension increase to March 2019 and the failure to reverse the 2012 pension cuts.

Anna McCabe continued: “We had hoped to see progress on reversing the 2012 changes to the State Pension which continues to punish older people who do not have a full contribution record such as those who worked abroad and the self-employed before 1988.”

“It is disappointing that, for the third time, we’re seeing a delay in the pension increase, especially when it is perhaps most needed in January and February to help during the coldest months.”

“We welcome the restoration of the final 15 per cent of the Christmas Bonus and payment as a double week for Christmas 2018 for all social welfare recipients.”  

“A corresponding rise in the thresholds of means-tested benefits such as the fuel allowance and medical cards is needed to see these income increases make a real difference to the life of an older person.”


Anna McCabe said: “We are disappointed not to see any concrete reference to home supports in Budget 2019. Homecare in Ireland is in crisis. A statutory home care scheme is urgently needed. Almost 6,500 people are waiting for funding for home supports.”

“Home help hours and home care packages are simply not available as needed in many parts of the country and provision of care varies greatly across the regions.”

“Inadequate home support resources mean more older people simply do not have the option of being cared for at home, more families struggling to cope without home helps and more pressure on carers.”

Prescription Charges and Costs

Anna McCabe continued: “We welcome the modest decrease of 50c per prescription charge for over 70 medical card holders but know that this charge will still continue to cause real hardship for older people surviving on the lowest incomes.”

Prescription charges increased by 500 per cent during the Recession. Older people are more likely to have multiple prescriptions and to suffer from a tax that targets the sick and the least well-off.

“The reduction announced today is good news and we hope it is a step towards abolishing what is an unnecessary and dangerous tax on a vulnerable group.”

The higher cut off in eligibility for the GP Visit Card will mean that some older people under 70 will become eligible for a free GP visit. The €10 reduction to €124 monthly cap for the Drugs Payment Scheme is a modest help for older people struggling with the cost of medicines.


For more information contact Corona Joyce at or on 087 968 2449

Note to Editor:

Earlier this year hundreds of Age Action members met across the country and agreed their priorities for this year’s budget, which have been costed and published today:

  1. Increase the weekly State Pension by €5 per week to build towards achieving the Government's commitment in the National Pensions Framework of a State Pension set at 35 per cent of average weekly earnings [Cost: €160.9 million]
  2. Increase the cost of the Living Alone Allowance by €3 per week [Cost: €32.8 million]
  3. Reverse the changes introduced in 2012 to the State Pension system reducing the number of bands from six to four [Cost: €73 million]
  4. Increase the Home Supports budget by 26% to begin to meet unmet need [Cost: €107 million]
  5. As a first step towards reinstating the over 70s medical card, expand the range of services provided by the GP visit card to include prescriptions to those over 70 [Cost: €61.5 million]
  6. Remove the GMS prescription charge for over 70s medical card holders [Cost: €42 - 44 million]




World Refugee Day

 Today, June 20th is World Refugee Day. The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. This is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has seen in its almost 70 years. Data from UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, released this week shows that almost 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced. To put this in perspective, this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey.   Today, older refugees make up some 8.5 per cent of the overall population of concern to UNHCR, and by 2050 more of the world will be over 60 than under 12. Older refugees experience an additional burden due to their age and associated conditions. In a report published by the Centre for Policy on Ageing and Age UK, they identified that “the main issues facing older refugees and asylum seekers are low income, the language barrier, the risk of loneliness and a lack of social networks, and possibly a loss of social status”.  Reduced mobility and a high number of chronic medical conditions also greatly impact the life of an older refugee, as adequate and culturally appropriate healthcare is often difficult to access. As well, throughout their time in refugee shelters, older refugees are also more likely to experience social disintegration, the impact of negative social selection and chronic dependency on the resources of refugee shelters. According to the International Federation on Ageing “The contributions of older refugees can have far-reaching impacts on the preservation of the cultures and traditions of disposed and displaced people. The wisdom and experiences of older refugees must be harnessed through formal and informal leadership roles, to improve the welfare of all refugees”. Marion MacGregor, writing for InfoMigrants says “Older refugees can be seen as an asset, rather than simply requiring special care. In many families, it falls to them to look after children so that their parents can work….. Older people are transmitters of culture, skills and crafts that are important in preserving traditions of displaced people. The resilience of older people can help to strengthen communities and they can contribute to positive and peace-building interactions with the local host communities.”    

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