(13 September 2021) Age Action today launched its submission to Government in advance of Budget 2022, alongside the findings of a survey of older people’s views on the budget.
93.7% of respondents to Age Action’s Pre-Budget 2022 survey said that there should be in increase in the State Pension. 53.7% of older persons said they found it difficult to access services or activities that were only available online, and 54.3% had medical appointments for non-COVID issues cancelled or postponed.
Speaking about the launch, Age Action’s Senior Public Affairs and Policy Officer Nat O’Connor said ‘The Government did not increase the State Pension in the last two budgets, despite rising costs for older people. The value of the State Pension is now 28.9% of average earnings, which is €43.84 below the recommended target of 33% of average earnings which was nearly met in 2017. That is why Age Action has called for a €15 increase in the State Pension in 2022, alongside pro rata increases for qualified adults and other allowances, plus a proportionate increase in income thresholds used for eligibility for the Medical Card and other means-tested services.
The fact that more people now have the prospect of good health in retirement is a tremendous success story. To ensure that everyone in society can benefit from healthy active retirement, the Government must make the necessary investment in the State Pension, healthcare and social services. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Budget 2022 should be about addressing the growing inequalities experienced by many older people.’
‘The failure to improve the incomes of older people is deepening inequality in society. There should be a “triple lock” in every year’s budget that would take the politics out of the State Pension, and provide a guaranteed increase of 2.5%, the cost of living or the increase in average earnings, whichever is greater’ said O’Connor.
Alongside investment in the State Pension, healthcare and social services, Age Action has called for €2 million to be ring-fenced to establish a much-needed independent Commissioner for Ageing and Older Persons as well as the creation of a Communications Allowance to support digital inclusion and investments home insulation grants, housing for older people, home care, and support for family carers.
Almost all older people benefit from the State Pension, but despite this one in every nine older people suffers from material deprivation, with over 89,000 older people (12.4%) unable to afford a protein-rich meal (meat/fish/equivalent) every second day, over 30,000 (4.3%) unable to afford a warm, waterproof coat and over 29,500 (4.1%) without heating at some stage in the year [Survey of Income and Living Conditions/SILC 2019, CSO].
Many older people are enjoying good health in retirement, but it remains the case that one in three people aged 65 or older has a disability or serious impairment, and around half of older people have an underlying health issue such as high blood pressure, back pain or diabetes. The COVID-19 pandemic saw unprecedented investment in the public health system and this investment should be consolidated to finally deliver a European public model of health and social care to all.