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Older people’s organisations say Government response to financial pressure of COVID-19 is piecemeal and inadequate

Published 04/04/2020

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 (Tuesday, 31 March 2020) Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland have described the Government extension of the fuel allowance as ‘piecemeal and inadequate’.

 Age Action & Active Retirement Ireland today criticized the piecemeal nature of the Government’s response to the financial challenges facing older people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. They argue that close to 70% of pensioners will not benefit from the announcement.

Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland said: “We requested that Government recognises the additional costs of cocooning and self-isolating specifically for people over 70, many of whom may be carers and persons with a disability. The restrictive nature of the fuel allowance means that some 70% of people who need financial support the most won’t benefit at this time of great crisis.”

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action stated “Supporting those most impacted by COVID-19 is not purely about reassuring them their shopping will be delivered. In the context of the estimated €6billion package of measures announced by Government in recent weeks, the financial supports to older people have been wholly inadequate.  Older people – many of whom are carers themselves and live with a disability - should be supported with specific measures, such as a once-off double state pension payment and a doubling of the Living Alone allowance until the end of June.”

He said, “Rather than inching forward with piecemeal measures the Government should recognise that this crisis could stretch for an extended period of time and introduce a range of measures to give older people peace of mind.”

Maureen Kavanagh also said, “Our members around the country are doing their bit in this national crisis, but they are worried about being able to afford extra fuel, hand sanitiser and other costs that arise because of the crisis.”

Situation of Over 70s in Ireland

  • There are 426,331 people aged over 70 in Ireland of which 175,205 people have a disability and 117,123 live alone.
  • There are 20,290 carers over 70 years of age
  • Official poverty statistics from the CSO indicate that 11.4% of people aged 65 years and over were ‘at risk’ of poverty in 2018 meaning they are not able to withstand the immediate economic impact of COVID-19.
  • People over the age of 65 depend on social protection for more than three-quarters of their income, for many older people the State Pension and secondary supports are often their only source of income.

 

ENDS

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Call for Voices of Older People to be Heard

Age Action welcomes relaxation of some cocooning measures but criticises lack of consultation with older people.

 

 

(1 May) Age Action called for the Government to consult with older people as it plans for the longer-term impacts of Covid-19. To date, public health and Government advice has treated the over 70 age cohort as one. As a single age cohort people over the age of 70 have been subject to public health measures but not enabled to participate in the decision-making process that would ensure that their lived experience and their self-identified needs informs the outcome.