Calls for €7 increase to lift pensioners above poverty line

Calls for €7 increase to lift pensioners above poverty line
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A charity that supports tens of thousands of older people in Ireland has called for the state pension to be increased by €7 in this year’s budget.

Alone has also suggested the restoration of the fuel allowance to 32 weeks.

The call comes as the charity said that more than 63,000 people over the age of 65 experience enforced deprivation.

It also claimed that 1.3% of people over 50 don’t have an indoor flushing toilet – 18,800 in total across Ireland.

There are currently 235 people over the age of 60 who are on the charity’s housing waiting list.

Communications officer Grainne Loughran said older people are stuck in situations that many members of the public would not think exists in today’s society.

“The one we’ve seen grow over the last number of years is the number of people that are on the housing waiting list,” she said.

Ms Loughran said these are people either experiencing homelessness or who might be at risk of homelessness.

She added: “We’ve seen these figures creep up and up over the last number of months and years to the point where this year alone 145 people over 60 years old have come to Alone who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – these are staggering figures.

“The most common issues that we see that older people are experiencing around finance is that people don’t have ‘rainy day’ funds.

“If somebody doesn’t have family or neighbours or somebody who’s close to them to support them, often these people find themselves in very vulnerable situations.

I think for an awful lot of people, no matter what challenges they face, they want to maintain their their own autonomy, their own decision making and help them maintain their capacities

“Unfortunately, we do see cases of elder abuse and we’ve seen in the HSE figures that those numbers have risen over the last two years and it’s something that we are seeing more of.”

With Budget 2020 to be announced next week, Alone has called for the state pension to increase by €7 each year for the next three years, to bring it up by around €21 in total.

They have also called for the restoration of the fuel allowance to 32 weeks and an increase in the Living Alone Allowance to €14 per week. There has been no rise in this allowance for several years.

The charity is also calling for the Home Care Coalition to increase the Home Support Service for older people budget by €110m.

Among the most frequent cases seen by Alone staff are people suffering from the impact of rising accommodation costs, with more older people living in private rented accommodation find it increasingly difficult to pay as rents are increased.

Other common issues include difficulties maintaining housing standards, paying utilities bills, the cost of transport in rural areas, and paying for home supports.

Sean Moynihan, chief executive of Alone, said: “We’re trying to improve people’s quality of life, deep down that’s what we try and do.

“It’s about improving independence, quality of life, health and mental health and increase well being.

“I think for an awful lot of people, no matter what challenges they face, they want to maintain their their own autonomy, their own decision making and help them maintain their capacities.”

Alone has around 1,500 volunteers helping some 3,500 older people.

Calls for €7 increase to lift pensioners above poverty line

Earlier (1.21pm): A charity that supports older people is calling for a €7 increase to the State Pension in the upcoming budget.

ALONE says it would allow those receiving the payment to move above the poverty line. Currently older people receiving the Contributory Pension get €248.30 per week.

Also included in its pre-budget submission is a boost to the Housing Aid grant over the next 10 years, to help combat the issues for older people living in private-rented accommodation.

ALONE service-user Christy Jackson rented privately up until six months ago, and says his rent tripled over a seven-year period.

"I was very careful and I didn't eat properly because soups were all I could afford. I couldn't afford glasses, I couldn't afford to go to a dentist, I couldn't afford all these things," he said.

"You just can't do it on a pension, not on an Irish pension anyway."

“Many people assume that older people have their financial needs met by their state pension,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

“However, financial hardship is often a hidden issue among older people and one not many are willing to talk about.

“We have worked with people experiencing similar conditions today to those that ALONE was first set up to prevent more than forty years ago.

“This includes older people living without indoor bathroom facilities and in unsafe housing conditions, who are experiencing financial abuse, and who cannot manage to pay their monthly expenses, many of whom had been struggling for some time before approaching ALONE for support.”

Digital Desk

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