‘Older people will be left struggling’

More older people will be left struggling to pay for heat and healthcare because of Wednesday’s budget, Age Action has warned.

Group spokesman Eamon Timmins said: “Older people are already telling us they are going to bed in the middle of the day or sitting on buses or shopping centres in order to remain warm because they cannot afford to heat their homes.”

The value of electricity units provided under the household benefits package has been reduced by €20m and follows in the wake of cuts to the number of units last year.

The introduction of a carbon tax on solid fuel would also hit those struggling to heat their homes, taking in €22m in a full year.

Age Action is concerned about the property tax and believes the income threshold of €15,000 per annum, or €288 a week, for a single pensioner is too low. “Many older people may fail to qualify for the deferral but will struggle to pay for this tax,” said Mr Timmins.

The charity is also angry that the trebling of the prescription charge from 50c to €1.50 per item on a prescription would hit the poorest and the sickest of older people the hardest.

The Older and Bolder group said it was alarmed by the changes to medical card eligibility criteria.

Director Patricia Conboy said older people on incomes just above the new threshold, particularly those living alone, would be hit hardest by the loss of the medical card.

She said the GP visit card, which will replace the medical card for 20,000 pensioners, would only entitle them to a free visit to the doctor.

“Unlike the medical card, the GP card does not offer the same access to a range of vital supports including public health nursing, social work services, community care services, and certain in-patient public hospital services. In addition, any prescribed drugs associated with your GP visit are not free,” she said.

“The security that the medical card provides, especially for older people with ill health, cannot be underestimated.”

She described the prop-erty tax as “an unforgiving tax” for older people. “This proposal risks turning a hard-won asset, house ownership, into a liability.”

Older and Bolder welcomed the retention of the state pension at current levels but said it believed reductions to telephone and electricity allowances would cause concern.

More on this topic

Noonan: Confidence returning to Irish economyNoonan: Confidence returning to Irish economy

Gilmore: No plans to remove rebels from Labour PartyGilmore: No plans to remove rebels from Labour Party

Labour Senator set to join Budget rebelsLabour Senator set to join Budget rebels

Burton regrets decision of expelled KeaveneyBurton regrets decision of expelled Keaveney


When Marisa Murphy went to play as a teenager on Dinish Island, she could still see the flowers growing among the ruins in her grandmother’Islands of Ireland: Barely inhabitated Dinish became an industrial zone

MAC make-up artist Lucy Bridge shares her tips backstage at Roland Mouret.How to create the perfect matte red lip, according to a backstage beauty expert

New trends include chunky heeled boots, silver belts and lots of plaid from the British designer.Victoria Beckham got ‘rebellious’ for her new collection – as David and family watched on

When horses were shown photographs of angry human faces, their hearts speeded up.Jackass penguin talk is similar to humans

More From The Irish Examiner