Older people responding to the survey commented:
“My house is heated by coal, it increased to €30 per bag
which I can’t afford, I don’t light my fire until 6 o’clock
and the house is very cold, no warm water either.”
“I use less heat and buy less food.”
“Food price inflation and a fixed low pension are causing stress and poor mental health.”
The annual Cost of Living survey released by ALONE today has shown that of the 460 older people surveyed, 75% of respondents said that their standard of living has been reduced by the cost-of-living crisis, with 11% preferring not to comment. With 3 in 4 older people relying mainly on the state pension, which is below the poverty line for those living alone, we are seeing increased demand for our services as more older people are living in poverty.
Of those who felt the biggest impact, one older person commented that their ESB bill was “€300 higher than their pension that month”, with another saying, “I have spent my life insurance on bills in the house and nobody knows, I am really worried about it.”
Heating and energy bills were the cost that caused most anxiety, with 46% of respondents saying that this was their main concern. Other concerns included Household Maintenance and Food Prices, with 1 in 10 of older people surveyed saying they were worried about all of their costs.
ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan commented, “Our survey shows that the older people are struggling with the ongoing cost of living crisis. More than half of our respondents say they are finding it difficult to pay their bills. We also know from other sources such as the CSO and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission that 1 in 5 older people are living in poverty and 17% of over-60’s find their ability to do things that are important to them is limited by their financial situation. Actions such as benchmarking the State Pension as Government committed to, and raising the Fuel Allowance, Telephone Support payment, Living Alone Allowance would start to relieve the stress that older people are feeling.”
The survey also found that around 9 in 10 older people did not feel any positive impact from the last budget, with 1 in 3 commenting that they were worse off after Budget 2023. In addition to its Annual Cost of Living Survey, ALONE has also published its pre-budget submission to Government, One Million and Counting, where it has outlined several asks that would provide relief for older people now as well as best deal with an ageing population into the future:
- 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.
- Significant funding in the policy areas of ;
- Home Care
- Housing for older people
- A commissioner for Older People
Mr. Moynihan went on to say, “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 concluded, “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. As the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council recently advised the government, spending now on the right policies is far cheaper than waiting until there’s a crisis in a few years.”