ALONE: Water charges will offset any Budget gains for older people

ALONE has said that older people living on the state pension will see a "small increase" in their income, and that is before they have to pay their water charges.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of the charity that cares for older people, said: "After seven successive years of harsh budgets disproportionally affecting the most vulnerable, we now are in a situation whereby one in five older people are at risk of poverty or suffering deprivation."

Mr Moynihan said thay are questioning whether the budget will do anything to bridge the gap between the rich and poor.

He said: "Not all older people are the same; those surviving on the state pension alone - which is just above the poverty line - will see a small increase of just €124.60 this year, and that’s before the water charges are taken into account.

"This small amount does not offset the consistent erosion of benefits and increased charges that vulnerable older people have been subject to in the last seven years.

"Whilst we do welcome the small gains, we believe that these blanket payments for older people will do little to move many of the people we work with out of poverty."

The Minister for Public Expenditure announced in the Budget that the living alone allowance will rise to €9 per week while a 25% Christmas bonus scheme for pensioners and those on social welfare is being introduced.

Mr Moynihan said: "For the first time since 1996, the Living Alone Allowance has been increased. Nevertheless the increase of €1.30, from €7.70 to €9.00 is not in line with inflation over the past 18 years and will make very little difference to the 20% of older people who are at risk of deprivation or living in poverty.

"Despite this €100 allowance, older people who survive solely on the state pension, will still have to pay for water with no increase to their income, this will be a real struggle for many older people."

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