“Budget 2022 still leaves an Ireland where quality of life in old age is still something many strive for,” the CEO of ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has said.
Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath today announced a €5 increase in weekly pension payments in the Budget.
He also said he would raise the Living Alone Allowance by €3 and that the weekly rate of the Fuel Allowance would be increasing by €5 as of midnight.
ALONE has highlighted that the State pension increase still leaves it more than €33 below the poverty line.
“There are measures in Budget 2022 that are welcome by ALONE, such as the increase in the Living Alone Allowance, however, overall we are disappointed in Budget 2022 as it does not address the issues impacting Ireland’s older population,” Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said.
“It is now also eight years since the publication of the National Positive Ageing Strategy and there has yet to be any investment in this.
“With an ageing demographic, it is imperative that funding be made available for the implementation of this strategy.
“Debates regarding the Budget are often framed as ‘them versus us’, one generation against another. This is unhelpful and unfair.
“The issues affecting older people today will affect older people in the future,” he continued.
Speaking to The Echo Mr Moynihan said Ireland is “a difficult country to age in if you’ve got to face any challenges or you’re on the basic pension”.
“At this rate, it will be Budget 2030 before a government finally reaches this target.
“The €5 increase in the Fuel Allowance and increase in the income threshold is welcome, however, we do not believe that this will alleviate the additional pressure households in fuel poverty will experience due to extreme increases in energy prices and carbon tax.”
Solidarity TD Mick Barry said the €5 increase in the Fuel Allowance “falls well short of what is needed by elderly people”.
“With energy costs skyrocketing that's why we needed a Fuel Allowance increase at least triple what was announced in the Budget,” Mr Barry said.
Well-known activist for the elderly Paddy O’Brien said many elderly people are scrimping to try and make ends meet.
“In order to save fuel, to save electricity, they go to bed early.
“They might watch the news, then they turn off the television because they think that’s costing too much.
“These are not isolated cases either, there are a lot of people doing it.”
While Mr O’Brien said he welcomed an increase in the State pension he said he and many others were disappointed that it was not increased by €10.
Mr O’Brien said he was very pleased to hear that Government has made the provision for the recruitment of 800 Gardaí and 400 Garda civilian staff in 2022.
“There’s no greater deterrent to crime than the presence of Gardaí. Hopefully a lot of those additional Gardaí could be stationed in Cork and in particular in areas with a high concentration of elderly people”.