Budget 2021 must focus on ensuring older people can remain healthy and active in their own communities, rather than treating them as a societal burden. That’s according to Active Retirement Ireland, the country’s largest representative organisation for older people.
Commenting in advance of tomorrow’s Budget announcement, Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, said: “In the Programme for Government, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party promised to value older people. Unfortunately, however, that value was quantified in a model that positions older people as patients, care recipients and those at risk of loneliness and isolation.
“We need a vision for an Age-Friendly Ireland that acknowledges the challenges faced by older people, but also celebrates their achievements and their contribution to society. Viewing older people not as a burden, but as full and active citizens, would be a truly transformative step for Irish society. Tomorrow’s Budget is an opportunity for the Government to ensure older people can remain healthier, independent, and contributing to their communities for longer.”
To uphold the pledges made to older people in the Programme for Government, Active Retirement Ireland is asking for the following actions:
- Increase the State Pension (Contributory and Non-Contributory) by €5, and ensure future increases are in line with average weekly earnings.
- Double the Telephone Allowance to €5 per week.
- Increase the gas/electricity payment of the Household Benefits Package.
- Increase the Living Alone Allowance to €18 per week.
- Ensure the continuation of the full “Christmas Bonus” payment.
- Restore the Fuel Allowance to 32 weeks and maintain the current value.
- Redirect funds raised through the Carbon Tax to target and fund better home energy efficiency programmes for older people.
- Put in place a nationally administered waiver scheme for refuse to meet the costs associated with these services for low-income households and those in receipt of social welfare payments faced with rising refuse charges.
- Remove the cost of blood tests and diagnostic screenings carried out at GP practices for patients with GP visit cards.
- Abolish any charges associated with prescription items for medical card holders.
- Maintain the Free Travel Scheme as a universal benefit for citizens aged 66 and over.
“Older people have been particularly impacted by the events of this year,” said Maureen Kavanagh. “They have been forced to isolate from their families and friends; they have had to endure a constant stream of commentary about how little value is placed on their lives; and – like people of all ages – they have had to adapt to life in the face of a global pandemic.
“We really do not need this Budget to present further challenges for older people. Rather than treating older people as a societal burden, the Government has a chance to demonstrate tomorrow that it really does value our older citizens.”
Representatives from Active Retirement Ireland will be available for media commentary on the Budget throughout the day tomorrow, Tuesday, 13th October, and over the following days. Media looking for budget reaction or advance commentary should contact Ciarán Garrett on 087-7158912.