ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is calling on Government to use Budget 2021 as an opportunity to start the process to provide the services , support and structures for an aging population. ALONE believes this year has shown how necessary it is to improve the quality of life for older people in Ireland.
ALONE would also like to see the provision of the health services outlined in the winter plan maintained and funded on an ongoing basis. This creates a wonderful opportunity to integrate all services, so people can age at home for longer and have a higher quality of life. While this budget finally addresses and funds issues such as loneliness, ALONE believe it should also move home care get an extra €130 million to meet the proven demand that is out there. To do this, ALONE is calling on Government to maintain the number of home care hours available to older people in the winter plan, and increase them on an ongoing basis.
In the area of housing, Budget 2021 should allocate another €85 million to housing aid for older people and those with a disability. This budget should address the housing needs in order to meet the growing demands of Ireland’s ageing population. We would like to see a budget commitment to scale with the numbers of housing with onsite support, based on the model outlined in Rebuilding Ireland.
As we move into the colder months, ALONE is calling on Government to ring-fence revenue from the Carbon Tax on measures that will eliminate fuel poverty, and exempt those in receipt of the Fuel Allowance from the Carbon Tax. The organisation is also calling for the Fuel Allowance to be kept at 32-weeks and restoring purchasing power back to 2010 levels at €25.30.
ALONE are in agreement with government policy, outlined in the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018 – 2023, that pension rates should be equal to average weekly earnings. Ultimately, ALONE are seeking to work towards an overall increase of €26.92 to the state pension, raising it to €275.22. This is based on 35% of an average weekly wage of €786.33, as per data from the Central Statistics Office in 2019 (CSO, Q4 2019). Budget 2021 should work towards this figure, beginning with a €7 increase in the state Pension. The organisation is also calling on Government Protect the Christmas bonus and the free travel pass for over-65’s
While ALONE welcome the news that the government will implement an auto-enrolment system for pensions, the organisation would like to see a clear timeline for its implementation, with more details announced on this as soon as possible.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “Many people assume that older people have their financial needs met by their state pension. However, financial hardship is often a hidden issue among older people and one not many are willing to talk about. And yet, financial difficulties are the third most common issue experienced by older people who come to ALONE for support. At ALONE, we work with people who are experiencing financial difficulties and support them to overcome them.”
He continued, “The state pension in Ireland is based on the assumption that the recipient has no mortgage, rent or other housing debt to be covered by the pension payment. It is designed to cover the cost of living, but not every day living costs. This issue will be only exacerbated in the coming years by our growing population, which is causing an increase in those over the age of 65. It is vital that policymakers and the public at large recognise that there are many older people who struggle to make ends meet. Budget 2021 must be a budget that allows meets the complex needs of older people and allows them to have a quality of life.”
‘’After some delays the last few years in the implementation of Slaintecare, we must maintain the funding now put into place for this winter. We must fund services in our community and finally provide the funding that will plan for an aging population. This will allow older people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.’’
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. Contact ALONE if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie