Many elderly people 'already in the poverty bracket', says Cork advocate

“Never before in my life have I seen so much hardship being experienced by the aged. It is almost impossible for them to exist from week to week, to have adequate food and heating," he said.
Many elderly people 'already in the poverty bracket', says Cork advocate

Paddy O’Brien said that those at the low end of the scale should and must be financially looked after in Tuesday’s Budget.

ADVOCATES of the elderly in Cork are calling for fairer payments for older persons ahead of the winter months.

Paddy O’Brien said that those at the low end of the scale should and must be financially looked after in Tuesday’s Budget.

“It’s pathetic to see people today struggling from week to week. Those people who are struggling to exist must be a top priority for the Government in this Budget.

“Already, large numbers of elderly people are regrettably in the poverty bracket and their social welfare weekly payments are not adequate.

“Never before in my life have I seen so much hardship being experienced by the aged. It is almost impossible for them to exist from week to week, to have adequate food and heating.

“Regrettably, they have choices to make. They eat or they have heating. The lives of our elderly people have changed dramatically. They are going to bed early to keep warm, and many aren’t watching television thinking it will help save large sums of money.

“They can’t purchase adequate fuel to provide heating as it is now so expensive. One bag of coal today costs €37. This is completely out of reach for senior citizens because many throughout the city are living in damp, cold houses which require a lot of heat.

“What the Government must do next week to change the situation for elderly people is to try to restore to them a decent quality of life. Give elderly people a realistic increase and that increase should be implemented immediately and not make them wait months like in past years.

“The Free Fuel Scheme must be operational for longer periods and the weekly payment of that scheme must be increased.” Mr O’Brien said that more funding must also be made available for home carers in next week’s Budget.

“Without home help, working in the community and visiting the elderly, less people will be seeking longterm care in the nursing homes which are far more expensive.

“There is currently a great shortage of home carers and the main reason for that is that they are not being adequately paid. They do wonderful work, and they should be financially rewarded in the next budget.” 

AGE ACTION

Speaking to The Echo, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action Celine Clarke said that people were already struggling to make ends meet in the summer months.

“Age Action conducted a survey of older persons to inform our pre-Budget submission because we value the experience of older persons and what people told us when we asked them how they were coping with the cost of living is 28% said that they had cancelled subscriptions or memberships, nearly 38% told us they are taking fewer journeys, 27% of people told us that they were going without heating.

“This was in June, so what we can see is that already people were cutting back because they couldn’t make ends meet.” 

Echoing Mr O’Brien’s comments, she said: “That includes cutting back on their shopping and particularly on their heating and that was in the summer months so we would be really concerned that unless the Government increases the core social welfare payment for older persons which is the State pension, by €23, we will see people in a very dire situation.

“There is a case for the Government to introduce any social welfare increases in October and not to defer it until January because people are struggling now.

“It’s a political choice, how the Government spends what’s available to them, and if they make a choice to not increase the State pension to an adequate level, which would be €23, it’s a choice to make a cut on the living standards of older persons.” She said that small increases or no increases in the State pension seen in previous years has meant that people are “falling behind all the time”.

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