(Tuesday 27 September 2022) Age Action welcomes emergency measures in Budget 2023 to help older persons cope with the cost of living this winter. The announced double pension payments and the electricity credits are a welcome recognition by the Government that many older persons are struggling with basic costs like food, energy and running a car in rural Ireland. In addition, lump sum payments for those living alone or in receipt of Fuel Allowance will target those who are most at risk of poverty.
Reflecting on the €12 weekly increase in the State Pension, policy specialist Nat O’Connor said, “Age Action is disappointed that the Government has chosen not to protect older person’s weekly income despite our analysis that a €23 per week increase is needed to give people the same spending power they had in January 2022.”
“Many people will realise early next year that the weekly pension is still losing spending power and many will continue to go without essentials like enough protein in their diets or keeping their homes adequately warm,” Dr O’Connor continued.
“Allowing the pension to decline in value also strips many older persons of choice and independence. Less spending power means fewer options for how we can spend our time, where we can go, what we can eat, and whether we can take care of our health and our home. This in turn forces some older persons to the margins of our society.” Dr O'Connor continued.
Commenting on the changes to the Fuel Allowance announced in Budget 2023 Dr O’Connor said “Age Action brought analysis to the Government that many older persons in poorly insulated houses were not eligible for Fuel Allowance, so we welcome the move by Ministers Eamon Ryan and Heather Humphreys to extend Fuel Allowance to more people over 70, and to allocate carbon tax revenue to counter fuel poverty on a long-term basis.”
Age Action has called on Government to ensure that income thresholds for the Medical Card and other means-tested payments and services are adjusted to take account of changes to the State Pension, as failure to do so means that the increase to the State Pension will perversely knock some older persons out from crucial entitlements, further eroding the adequacy of their income.