Ireland ‘failing to plan’ for rise in elderly population

Ireland is heading for an old-age crisis due to its failure to properly plan for the rise in the number of elderly in the decades to come.

Ireland ‘failing to plan’ for rise in elderly population

The claim came from the National Social Monitor, operated by Social Justice Ireland, which said Ireland will have more than 1m people aged 65 and over by 2031.

Of those, some 136,000 will be aged 85 or over, yet Social Justice Ireland said issues associated with an aging population, social housing, and sustainability had been widely ignored in favour of a continuing focus on the economy.

Seán Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland, said efforts needed to be made to plan ahead so as to secure the wellbeing of future generations.

According to the think- tank, while there are currently positive signs for the country, such as the growth in GDP, a rise in the number of jobs available, and a fall in unemployment, there are also areas of concern.

“Ireland continues to have high national debt levels, growing pressure on public services, and major infrastructure deficits,” according to the report, published today. “Ireland has a sustained problem with poverty, particularly child poverty, and faces challenges in terms of literacy, numeracy and information processing skills deficits among adults.

“Despite recent welcome improvements, long-term unemployment is now seen as structural in nature.”

Ireland’s soaring elderly population rate will have an impact on areas such as housing and healthcare, but the National Social Monitor report also highlights issues such as the need to resource early childhood education, to improve adult literacy levels, and enhance citizen participation and engagement.

It also raises concerns over income distribution, pointing out that in 2013, the top 10% of Irish households received 24.4% of the total income while the bottom 10% received 3.2%.

It advocates increasing social welfare payments, making tax credits refundable, and introducing a universal State pension.

It also calls for changes to the taxation system and notes there are still 272,000 fewer full-time jobs in Ireland today than in 2007.

The report also states that the rolling-out of high-speed broadband to rural areas needs to be prioritised.

Dr Healy said: “We are focusing far too much on the performance of the economy and not nearly enough on issues such as aging, social housing, and sustainability, that have major implications for the wellbeing of individuals and society as a whole.”

Michelle Murphy, Social Justice Ireland research and policy analyst, said: “We need to plan now for such events. It is not as if this might happen in the future — it is already happening.”

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