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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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Charity expresses concern about out-of-date poverty figures

Following the publication of figures by the CSO yesterday, ALONE’s CEO has urged the public not to forget that there is a significant number of older people at risk of poverty in Ireland.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

ALONE, THE CHARITY which provides support for older people, has expressed concern at the publication of figures yesterday which showed a fall in the risk of poverty for people aged over 65.

According to the Central Statistics Office, 9.6 per cent of the elderly population were at risk of poverty in 2009, compared with 27.1 per cent noted in 2004.

The CSO figures used data gathered between 2004 and 2009 and ALONE’s CEO Seán Moynihan said the numbers are actually heading in the other direction with a significant increase of older people at risk.

“These figures are from two years ago and in the meantime standards of living for older people have been seriously affected by relentless cutbacks in State services and allowances for older people, such as the recent cuts in fuel allowances,” warns Moynihan.

Between July and December 2010, ALONE received 1,300 requests for assistance – a jump of 50 per cent on the previous six months.

“Working daily on the ground with older people who are experiencing extreme financial difficulties, we would urge the public not to forget that there is a significant number of older people living on the State pension who are reliant on social transfers which are reducing and leaving them at real risk of poverty and in need of assistance,” said Moynihan.

Also, the total population above 65 is about 500,000 so even 9.6 per cent at risk of poverty two years ago still represents a large figure of about 50,000 older people at risk nationwide.”

ALONE works with the one in ten of older people who are classed as vulnerable and struggle with loneliness, disability and ill-health. Many are living in sub-standard housing conditions and can often feel isolated, desperate and afraid, said Moynihan.

Fuel poverty continues to be a problem for many older people in Ireland.

Moynihan explains that last winter ALONE distributed €200,000 to more than 1,000 households where older people were suffering fuel poverty. The scheme was sponsored by Bord Gáis but it will not be available this year.

“We anticipate the cumulative effect of cuts in allowances and fuel price rises having a devastating effect on the older people in need with whom we work every winter and whose health is directly dependent on adequate home heating. Older people living on low incomes often have to make sacrifices and are forced to choose between basic needs that most of us take for granted such as ‘to heat or to eat’.”

For older persons who have a concern about their well-being, or those concerned for an older person, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032.

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