2025 Pre-Budget Forum with Department of Social Protection


Today marked our annual opportunity to formally speak with Ministers within the Department of Social Protection about the real issues affecting older persons as well as what is most needed in Budget 2025. Welcomed by the wonderful Mary Kennedy, we were treated to an interesting welcome address by Secretary General, John McKeown. He reflected on Ireland’s changing population and cultural landscape while also addressing the well-known fact that our population is ageing. The Secretary General praised the work of the many thousands of people who have immigrated to Ireland and contributed to our society in a positive way. Following this, he expressed the importance of immigrant workers especially within the caring field and suggested that they will be the ones who will be looking after us when “we’re old and decrepit”. We wondered if other colleagues present, working within the age sector, also shared the same worry that this government appears to continue treating our ageing population as a burden.

Secretary General did however reference that this Government “must not react but rather reflect and take action” for the future. He noted that rural depopulation is still in existence which the ISCP have seen, with our older people getting left behind. This point also came up when we broke into our workshop groups to discuss the topic ‘Supporting Retired & Older People’, led by Collum Walsh and Simon Shevlin. This was particularly in reference to pensions, the Living Alone Allowance, Fuel and Cost-of-Living Allowances. We expressed the need for a substantial increase in each of the above as 1 in 10 older persons are living close to the poverty line. We also campaigned for the implementation of benchmarking the state pension and other social supports at 34% of average earnings which was done so in solidarity with all of the Age Sector organisations at the table.

Eligibility criteria, means-testing and income thresholds were also discussed with almost 30% of our members declaring that means-testing social welfare payments had the most negative impact on their financial security. Representatives from each NGO or charity had examples of people being unfairly assessed for much needed supports or being refused one payment because they are not in receipt of another. We expressed the many reports of members who lost their medical card since the €12 pension increase last year expressing the need for more in-depth and transparent cross-departmental communication. Mr. Walsh assured us that each year there is a change to the pension rate, the Department of Health are informed meaning that this error may in fact lie with the Dept. of Health.

Issues with the Qualified Adult eligibility, the Carer’s Pension, Savings in Retirement, Fuel Allowance and the Household Benefits Package were also raised. In a short space of time, we each pleaded our case to Department Officials Colum Walsh, Simon Shevlin and colleagues who were very cooperative and attentive. Mr. Shevlin appeared deeply concerned when we raised the issue of the application and implementation of the Free Travel Scheme, in which one of our members was refused entry to the bus. This sparked debate of other instances where Free Travel Pass Holders have been unfairly discriminated against or left to the side to facilitate pre-booked ticket holders first.

A plethora of statistics, reports and real-life experiences were shared with the Department in the hopes that next year’s budget will be the one that makes a lasting difference for older persons. We are aware that Government cannot possibly satisfy every person’s need but the ISCP feel that older persons have borne the financial brunt of the Irish Economy for far too long. It is well and truly time to restore the purchasing power of our state pension to enable older people to plan for retirement and continue to contribute to the Irish society and economy.

If you would like to read our submission to the Department of Social Protection, you can read the full document here: