(Tuesday 21 February 2023)
Age Action welcomes the government’s recognition that the current rate of the state pension is inadequate in the face of the increased cost of living and that many older people need additional supports.
“This one-off payment of €200 covers some of the lost spending power experienced by older people who depend on the State Pension. Older people are telling Age Action that their quality of life has declined as they struggle to make ends meet. Older people tell us that they are cutting back on things such as eating meat, taking journeys, heating their homes because the State Pension has not kept pace with inflation” said Celine Clarke, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs at Age Action.
Age Action is calling for the Government to follow the example of many other European countries, as well as the recommendations of the Pensions Commission, and to benchmark and index social welfare payments. This would mean that as the cost of living rises, so does the State Pension.
“While a one-off payment is welcome, we are still left dealing with the cost-of-living crisis one month at a time, rather than putting in place longer-term solutions like benchmarking and indexation. Before the last Budget, Age Action said the State Pension needed an increase of €22 per week just to keep up with the rapidly rising prices. The Government added €12 per week, but they have now acknowledged that this wasn’t enough. We appreciate that the Minister for Social Protection has fought to secure an extra payment for people who rely on the State Pension, but a system of indexation would mean that we don’t have to rely on a Minister to fight for every increase because it would be an automatic adjustment,” said Clarke.
Age Action is concerned that not enough has been done to support people in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance given the fact that over 2 in 5 older people living alone are at risk of poverty. “Older people who live alone have many of the same costs as a couple which is why the Living Alone Allowance is a vital targeted measure to help them make ends meet. Age Action expected that the Government would recognise this group as having particularly acute needs and announce more supports targeting them” said Clarke.