In our Pre-Budget Submission we looked, not just for increases for older people for 2017/2018 but for a Programme of Recovery for Older People 2018-2020 in which government would outline their intentions and plans for older people. Naively, we expected there would be a plan, because in the run up to the BUDGET there were promises, that government would outline, not just the measures for this Budget but also their plans and intentions for future Budgets.
This just did not happen.
The State Pension has increased by €5, which is welcome, however our members are disappointed that yet again the payment is deferred to week commencing 26th March 2018, a period of 12 weeks into 2018. This deferral reduces the average payment over the year from €5 to €3.84 per week. We call on government as a matter of urgency to reconsider this decision and to pay the increase from an earlier date.
An increase in any payment is additional money and is appreciated; however we are very disappointed that the increase in the Fuel Allowance is one additional week, which brings the total payment from 26 to 27 weeks. Our ASK was for an additional payment of 3 weeks to bring the total payment to 29 weeks. This is still 3 weeks less that the 32 weeks which were previously paid. This is a critical means tested payment for older people and others across the life cycle. Without homes that are well insulated and well heated Older People will not be enabled to remain at home. For some time now there has been a campaign to raise awareness and seek the views of people in respect of HOME CARE. The desire to remain and age at home is strong among older people. A basic need and requirement to fulfil that desire is that they live in homes which are well heated otherwise the option to age at home may only be available to those on higher incomes.
The cost of heating across all the utilities has increased and the costs are further increased by the additional increased PSO levy which all customers will have to pay.
The restoration of the Telephone Support Allowance at a rate of €2.50 from June 2018 is a start for those who meet the twin criteria of Living Alone and are in receipt of Fuel Allowance. However we are concerned that the twin requirements for this payment and the level of payment will not enable many older people, especially those in Rural Ireland to get a land line or a telephone service which meets their needs.
We welcome the across the board reduction in prescription charges for medical card holders in line with the rates applicable to the over 70s as well as the €10 reduction on the threshold for the Drugs Refund Scheme from €144 to €134. However we are disappointed that there was no recognition of the increased burden borne by those who live alone in relation to both payments.
What do you think?
CONTACT : Máiread Hayes 086 349 8848