“I’ve been struggling for a while back. I’ve never found it this hard, actually,” says pensioner Theresa Moroney.
The 71-year-old had hoped Tuesday's budget would provide some reassurance in the face of rising costs but despite a number of measures that will impact her, she still has concerns.
Ms Moroney has lived alone in Nenagh, Tipperary, for 20 years. Her State pension of €253.30, which is her only source of income, barely covers her essential costs such as rent, groceries, oil and electricity.
Her hopes for the budget were modest — she would like to have enough money left at the end of the week to “go for a cup of coffee” with her grandchild. “You can’t even afford that anymore,” she said.
A €12 increase in all weekly social welfare payments will mean a rise in Ms Moroney's pension but she is not sure it will be enough. However, she added: “It will be grand to get it".
“It’s okay, it will keep us from going into debt and it will help,” she said.
Ms Moroney said she felt “a bit happier” following the budget announcement but she will still be afraid to turn on the lights for fear she will go into debt or that she might receive a bill that would “frighten” her.
“I do still worry but I’ll just try to keep on top of things now,” she said.
She worries about the increasing cost of electricity and avoids using the shower too much among other things.
“I don’t use the dryer that much really because I’d be afraid and I don’t turn on the lights much lately,” she said before adding that she would be scared in the winter if she were to keep the lights off but still worries about the potential cost of not doing so.
“I’ll be happy once I have a bit of light and a bit of fuel,” she said in response to the once-off cost of living measures in the budget.
Ms Moroney’s arthritis is worsened by her cold house and she has been struggling with the current price of oil which costs €400 for two months’ worth of heating. She sometimes can’t afford it, but her supplier allows her to pay back what she owes when she has it.
“If I owed him money, he would still give me oil,” she said.
Ms Moroney recently paid off two loans to get a few things for her house including a couch and a new bed, during which she had to sacrifice a lot to be able to pay it back, the loans which amounted to €4000 were paid back in instalments of €50, taking over 3 years to pay back.
A weekly grocery shop costs up to €70 while her rent costs €43 a week. She is grateful to be paying €43 saying: “When I look at Dublin and how dear it is, I just thank god.”
Meanwhile, Friends of the Elderly Fundraising and Communications Manager Deborah Costello said that older people yearn for the simple things and just want to be able to pay their bills.
“There’s very little left over for them in terms of enjoying themselves and getting out. They’ve spent the last two years being cooped up at home, and what we’ve experienced is that our older members want to have fun, they want to get back out and enjoy themselves.
“All they’re hearing at the moment is that there’s going to be a rise in cost of extraordinary amounts for both electric and for gas and they’re very concerned about that,” she said, adding that they might be afraid to keep the TV on due to the costs.
“Some older people rely on the TV for company. That may be the only sound or human voice that they hear from one end of the week to the next,” she said.
Ms Costello said this fear has been intensified due to the constant price hikes which is causing “a huge amount of anxiety”.
“They feel as if they can’t plan going into the winter months because they don’t know what is going to happen or what way their bills are going to rise,” she said.
Friends of the Elderly supply non-perishable food hampers which free up some of their pension money.
The charity has seen a 100% increase in the demand for food hampers, having given out 1,200 per year before the pandemic. This year, they are on track to deliver 2,400 food hampers.