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State pension call amid concerns growing old 'shouldn't mean growing afraid'

Published 26/09/2016

Age Action said the Government should commit to adding five euro every year to the weekly payment for anyone 66 and over
Age Action said the Government should commit to adding five euro every year to the weekly payment for anyone 66 and over

Campaigners have called for a 25 euro hike in the state pension over the next five years.

Ahead of next month's budget, Age Action said the Government should commit to adding five euro every year to the weekly payment for anyone 66 and over.

The organisation said pensioners are growing old in fear because of overcrowding in hospitals and because of financial pressure from property tax, heating bills and the price of medication.

Justin Moran, head of advocacy and communications at Age Action, said the state pension of 233 euro is 13 euro below where it should be to keep people out of poverty.

"Growing old in Ireland shouldn't mean growing afraid, but it does," he said.

"Pensioners are afraid of losing their home because of rising property taxes. They're afraid of getting sick and relying on an ailing public health system.

"They're afraid of being unable to afford medicine or to heat their homes. They're afraid of going into a nursing home because there is no community care available."

Mr Moran said the 25 euro increase over the five years has already been pledged.

Age Action members are also calling for the r estoration of the fuel and telephone allowances over the next two budgets and t he abolition of prescription charges for medical card holders.

They also want an additional 73.8 million euro to fund 4.1 million home help hours.

Mr Moran added: "More than 85,000 people over the age of 65 are living in deprivation and that number is rising.

"Next month the Government can help to restore the incomes of pensioners, cut by successive austerity budgets, stand by its election pledge and deliver for our senior citizens."

Age Action also said there is an increasing need for investment to enable older people to remain longer in their homes.

Between 2004 and 2013 there was a 44% increase in the number of older people living in nursing homes classified as being low dependency and from 2011 until last year money for h ome help services fell from 211 million euro to 185 million euro.

Mr Moran said: "The practice is to push more and more older people into nursing homes to the point that Ireland has the second highest proportion of people aged 65 and over in nursing homes and hospitals."

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