There are ‘One Million and Counting’ older people in Ireland.
ALONE has called on Government today to make urgent investments now in Budget 2024 that will make Ireland a country that is fair and just to our older population from 2024 and into the future.
In ‘One Million and Counting’, ALONE calls on Government to implement benchmarking of the State pension, increase the rates of Telephone Support Allowance, Living Alone Allowance and Fuel Allowance, and to commit funding to policy areas including loneliness, home care, housing with support, housing adaptation grants and combating energy poverty.
ALONE also released the results of their annual pre-budget survey, which was answered by the older people ALONE work with.
Respondents to the survey reported a variety of issues such as having spent their life insurance to pay bills in their home, only eating once a day to cut back on food costs, their biggest worry being heating their home, and worrying if they would have enough money to see them through the rest of their lives.
460 people responded to the survey, which showed:
- 75% of respondents said they have been impacted or severely impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.
- More than half of respondents (55%) find it difficult to pay their bills.
- Heating and energy costs are the most worrying costs for older people ALONE are working with, followed by household maintenance costs, food prices, healthcare costs and transport.
- Changes that respondents believe would help them most in the budget were, in the following order; Increase of State pension, increase of the fuel allowance and increase in the Living Alone Allowance.
ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan said, “One in five older people are living in poverty today, and older people living alone are particularly at risk. This has nearly doubled in a year. The recently published Census results show that there are now more than 1 million people aged 60+ living in Ireland. As our population ages, Ireland needs action about the living standards being experienced by older people today, and the standards we want to see for all of us as we grow older, before we reach a crisis point.”
He continued, “We cannot afford to wait to make strategic and capital investments in services and supports for older people. We need strategic action now and not annual token amounts of money, to address the standards of living being experienced by our growing ageing population. Government officials talk about putting corporation tax receipts away for a rainy day, but if we don’t make choices now, we will simply not be able to meet the housing and health needs of older people in the future. Every year we lose out to other priorities but this year we need action. “
Recommendations from ALONE in this year’s Pre-Budget Submission include:
- Implement benchmarking of the State Pension and increase by a minimum of €27.50 this year to prevent a further increase in poverty rates among older people.
- Increase the Fuel Allowance by €35 to maintain cost of living support.
- Increase the rate of Telephone Support Allowance from €2.50 to €10 per week.
- Increase the living Alone Allowance from €22 to €32 per week.
- Significantly increase funding to the Home Support Scheme to increase hours delivered to older people and people with disabilities in 2024.
- Deliver an action plan to combat loneliness.
- Significantly increase funding for Housing Adaptation Grants by a minimum of €85m.
- Commit to a minimum of 25% of all new builds for social housing to be developed to age-friendly and universal design standards.
- Develop and fund a programme of strategic capital investment in care and support for older people, including the likes of Housing with Supports, to be delivered in line with demographic projections.
- Deliver a Commissioner for Older People.
- Deliver the €10m fund to support people experiencing energy poverty, committed to in the Action Plan to Combat Energy Poverty.
Moynihan concluded, “Our survey shows that many older people in Ireland are living on the breadline today. The CSO shows that older people living alone have the lowest disposable incomes. Older people today are waiting for home care, are on trollies in A&E departments, are living in the coldest homes, and cannot access vital services and supports. This government committed to benchmarking the pension and creating an equitable society, but it has not delivered this yet. What is it going to take for Government to listen to the needs of more than one million people? There are many benefits to an ageing population, but we need to plan for it properly now.”