AGE ACTION CRITICISES GOVERNMENT FOR BEING CONTENT TO KEEP OLDER PEOPLE HOVERING ON POVERTY LINE
Failure to increase pensions contradicts Government’s commitments under National Pensions Framework
Reducing tax breaks for private pensions could have allowed Government to tackle significant income inequality among older people
Age Action CEO, Paddy Connolly, says that older people will be disappointed but probably not surprised by the Government’s failure to increase the Old Age Pension for 2020. Mr Connolly said that the tone of the Government’s message to older people in the lead up to the Budget has been that they shouldn’t expect much by way of income improvements. However, Paddy Connolly welcomed the Budget measures to tackle income inequalities in childhood which he said would help protect against the accumulation of disadvantage later in life for future generations of older people.
“The Government’s own National Pensions Framework committed it to benchmarking the State Pension at 35% of average weekly earnings. In order to move the current pension payment towards the delivery of that target, Age Action called on the Government to increase the weekly pension payment by €9.
“What’s most disappointing is that this increase was eminently achievable – at no extra cost to the State – by reducing the tax breaks on private pensions to 33%, as proposed by the National Pensions Framework. Reducing these tax breaks would not alone provide the funds for significant increases for all pensioners, it would also help to reduce the massive income inequality that exists amongst older people,” Paddy Connolly said.
Mr Connolly welcomed the increase in the Living Alone Allowance, rise in the Medical Card income thresholds for over 70s as well as increases in some secondary benefits but questioned whether older people would see any real net benefit in their pockets particularly because of rising fuel prices. He also challenged the Government to commission research on the cost of ageing to establish the true costs of growing old in Ireland.
Paddy Connolly welcomed the commitment to increase spending on home support provision and called on the Government to expedite home care legislation.
“The vast majority of older people wish to spend their later years in their own home, close to family and community, and not to be forced into nursing homes due to a shortage of home care packages. In this context, we welcome the Government’s commitment to provide an additional one million hours for home care. However, it’s vital that the promise of home care legislation by 2021 is delivered upon,” Age Action’s Paddy Connolly concluded.