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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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Some older people are being forced to choose between food, fuel and medication

Age Action says the Government needs to look out for the elderly.

Image: elderly woman via Shutterstock

AGE ACTION SAYS older people are experiencing ‘misery and hardship’ and that the Government needs to do something about it.

The group says that in recent budgets it has steered away from asking for increased funding but that older people are now struggling.

It says older people are being forced to make “unacceptable” choices in the face of austerity and it’s urging the Government to provide increased social welfare payments.

Age Action spokesperson Eamon Timmins said, “we have heard personal accounts of people remaining in bed for pro-longed periods because they could not afford to heat their homes to a safe level.

And people being forced to choose between food, fuel and medication because they could not afford all three.

“Knowing what we know, it would be morally wrong of us not to demand increases in key support payments. The choices some older people are being forced to make are totally unacceptable.”

The older people’s charity says that certain increased supports are needed, such as:

  • a €5 a week increase in the State Pension (which has been frozen since January, 2009)
  • the restoration of the Christmas bonus (abolished in 2009)
  • a €3.80 per week rise in the Living Alone Allowance (which has not increased since 1996)
  • a reversal in the fuel payment cuts and changes made in recent budgets.

Timmins said, “on the one hand, older people have been hit by a series of cuts in recent budgets and increased charges in recent years, ranging from the abolition of the telephone allowance, and cuts to fuel supports.”

On the other hand, they have faced a five-fold increase in prescription charges, the loss of Medical Cards as income limits have come down, soaring prices and a range of new taxes and charges, all of which must be paid from their fixed incomes.

The older people’s charity are also seeking clarity from Minister Joan Burton on the purpose of a review into the travel pass scheme for older people.

Timmins said, “the travel pass is a vital support for older people, enabling them to live with dignity and independence in their own homes.”

Read: ‘It’s not on the agenda’: The government won’t be getting rid of the Free Travel Scheme>

Read: The income gap between older people is widening>

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