Charity launches Pre-Budget Submission and campaign on financial difficulty on International Day for Older Persons.
ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, today launched their Pre-Budget submission and finance campaign, “Let’s Talk Money” with journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne. At the launch, which took place on International Day for Older Persons, ALONE hosted a conversation between Vincent Browne and ALONE service users who have experienced financial difficulties. ALONE is aiming to raise awareness of the challenges of financial hardship among older people and is calling for an increase of at least €7 to the State Pension in this year’s Budget.
“Many people assume that older people have their financial needs met by their state pension,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “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. We are very grateful that friend of ALONE, Vincent Browne, has joined us today to help us raise awareness of this vital issue.”
“We have worked with people experiencing similar conditions today to those that ALONE was first set up to prevent more than forty years ago,” he continued. “This includes older people living without indoor bathroom facilities and in unsafe housing conditions, who are experiencing financial abuse, and who cannot manage to pay their monthly expenses, many of whom had been struggling for some time before approaching ALONE for support. At ALONE, we work with people who are experiencing financial difficulties and support them to overcome them. It is vital that policymakers and the public at large recognise that there are many older people who struggle to make ends meet.”
In 2017, more than 63,000 people over 65 were experiencing enforced deprivation. According to research by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, in rural areas an older person living alone still cannot attain the minimum essential standard of living based on their income.
“As our population gets older and more people are living in unstable rented accommodation, it is likely that even more older people will experience financial hardship,” said journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne at the event. “Currently older people receiving the Contributory Pension receive €248.30 per week, while the poverty line in Ireland is €252.11. It is vital that older people are protected in this year’s Budget and that this issue is recognised.”
Among the most frequent cases seen by ALONE staff include the impact of rising accommodation costs, as more older people living in private rented accommodation find it increasingly difficult to pay rent as costs increase. One woman ALONE is currently working with, aged 74, is living in a B&B after receiving a notice to quit from her private rented accommodation, and was unable to find affordable rental accommodation.
Other common issues include difficulties maintaining housing standards, paying utilities bills, the cost of transport in rural areas, and paying for home supports. Some older people ALONE work with cut essentials to ensure their budgets balance – for example, by waiting until their home gets too cold to manage before putting on the heating, or staying in bed to save on fuel costs.
ALONE’s Pre-Budget submission includes proposals such as increasing the State Pension by at least €7, increasing the Living Alone allowance to €14 per week, and supports the call of the Home Care Coalition to increase the Home Support Service for older people budget by €110 million.
“This International Day of Older Persons, we are urging the Government to protect and support older people in the upcoming Budget,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “It is vital that older people who are in vulnerable circumstances are not forgotten even as Brexit looms over this year’s Budget.”
“ALONE staff work with older people every day who are experiencing financial hardship, and we create individualised support plans for each person,” he concluded. “For any older person who may be experiencing financial difficulties today, we are encouraging you to reach out to ALONE and to talk about it. Support is available and financial hardship is not something that anyone has to experience alone.”