(Wednesday 22 February 2023) Age Action is calling on Government to benchmark and index the State Pension to protect older people from poverty as the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions shows that the number of older people at risk of poverty has increased by 55,000 in 2022 compared to 2021.
“The SILC survey has shown what Age Action has been telling government for years, which is that for older people to live free from poverty, the pensions they rely on must be benchmarked and indexed to keep up with inflation and average earnings. The below-inflation €12 increase in the State Pension announced in Budget 2023 was a political choice to cut the living standards of older people. Age Action raised concerns with the government announcing a one-off payment for older people, which is a short-term solution that does not protect older people from the effects of inflation going forward, including lost spending power on their pension that will add up to €1,242 in 2023,” said Celine Clarke, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs, Age Action.
“Many older people have low, fixed incomes, and most rely heavily on the State Pension as the foundation of their income. When the State Pension is not adjusted to keep up with inflation or changes to average earnings, we see more older persons falling behind, including thousands falling into poverty,” said Dr Nat O’Connor, Policy Specialist at Age Action.
The findings from the SILC survey reinforce Age Action’s advocacy to government that more fundamental change is needed to guarantee people adequate incomes in older age.
Dr O’Connor continued, “The statistics from the CSO line up with what we are hearing all the time from older persons, including through periodic surveys and focus groups with our members. Many are struggling with the cost of home heating, transport and are cutting back on food shopping. Many people we talk to have cut back on socializing and are avoiding taking journeys due to the cost of transport. The majority of older persons are also worried about the decline in the spending power of their savings and the fact that their occupational or private pensions are not keeping up with inflation.”
“Age Action has repeatedly called on the government to conduct a cost of ageing study, and to benchmark and index the pension against inflation and average earnings to prevent exactly this kind of scenario where inadequate increases to people’s weekly income plunge tens of thousands of older persons into poverty,” Dr O’Connor concluded.
Key Findings of the SILC Survey
- SILC 2022 shows that overall risk of poverty in Ireland in 2022 was 13.1%, but it was 19% for older persons (aged 65+). This means that over 140,000 older persons are living at risk of poverty, at least 55,000 more than the previous year.
- One in three older persons living alone (33.6%), the majority of whom are women, were at risk of poverty, up from one in five in 2021 (21.5%).
- Enforced deprivation among older persons rose by more than half, from 8.4% in 2021 to 12.7% in 2022. Consistent poverty among older persons rose by a third, from 2.5% in 2021 to 3.3% in 2022.