WELL-KNOWN elderly rights activist in Cork, Paddy O’Brien, has voiced his support for calls for minimum increases of €20 to the State pension, the living alone allowance, and the fuel allowance in Budget 2023.
He said older people are finding it “very difficult to exist” with the spiralling cost of living.
Mr O’Brien was speaking following the publication of a pre-budget submission from Alone, the organisation that supports older people to age safely and securely at home.
In the submission, entitled If Not Now, When?, submitted to the Department of Social Protection, the organisation outlines a number of requests, including that the Government would make a two-year commitment of increases of a minimum of €20 to the State pension, in line with benchmarking promises made in the Roadmap for Social Inclusion.
It has also called for an increase to the fuel allowance of €20 and expansion of the scheme from 28 weeks to 35 weeks, increased streamlining of entitlements for older people, and reviews of the urgent and exceptional needs payment schemes.
The organisation’s calls also include requesting a two-year commitment to increase the living alone allowance and to benchmark it to one-quarter of the State pension.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr O’Brien said he agreed with the calls from Alone, saying that elderly people are finding it “very difficult to exist”.
Mr O’Brien said the current State pension is “totally inadequate” given rising utility bills, food prices, and other expenses.
“Elderly people are telling me how difficult it is for them to live,” said Mr O’Brien.
“They’re cutting down on the amount spent on food, they’re cutting down on the amount of times they’re turning on the heating, on electricity usage. Elderly people are going to bed much earlier now to save on these costs.”