Belfast Telegraph

Charity calls for increase in state pension

Alone also wants the fuel allowance to be restored to 32 weeks.

The charity Alone has called for an increase in the state pension (PA)
The charity Alone has called for an increase in the state pension (PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

A charity that supports tens of thousands of older people in Ireland has called for the state pension to be increased by seven euro in this year’s budget.

Alone has also suggested the restoration of the fuel allowance to 32 weeks.

The call comes as the charity said that more than 63,000 people over the age of 65 experience enforced deprivation.

It also claimed that 1.3% of people over 50 don’t have an indoor flushing toilet – 18,800 in total across Ireland.

There are currently 235 people over the age of 60 who are on the charity’s housing waiting list.

Communications officer Grainne Loughran said older people are stuck in situations that many members of the public would not think exists in today’s society.

“The one we’ve seen grow over the last number of years is the number of people that are on the housing waiting list,” she said.

Ms Loughran said these are people either experiencing homelessness or who might be at risk of homelessness.

She added: “We’ve seen these figures creep up and up over the last number of months and years to the point where this year alone 145 people over 60 years old have come to Alone who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – these are staggering figures.

“The most common issues that we see that older people are experiencing around finance is that people don’t have ‘rainy day’ funds.

“If somebody doesn’t have family or neighbours or somebody who’s close to them to support them, often these people find themselves in very vulnerable situations.

I think for an awful lot of people, no matter what challenges they face, they want to maintain their their own autonomy, their own decision making and help them maintain their capacities Sean Moynihan

“Unfortunately, we do see cases of elder abuse and we’ve seen in the HSE figures that those numbers have risen over the last two years and it’s something that we are seeing more of.”

With Budget 2020 to be announced next week, Alone has called for the state pension to increase by seven euro each year for the next three years, to bring it up by around 21 euro in total.

They have also called for the restoration of the fuel allowance to 32 weeks and an increase in the Living Alone Allowance to 14 euro per week. There has been no rise in this allowance for several years.

The charity is also calling for the Home Care Coalition to increase the Home Support Service for older people budget by 110 million euro.

Among the most frequent cases seen by Alone staff are people suffering from the impact of rising accommodation costs, with more older people living in private rented accommodation find it increasingly difficult to pay as rents are increased.

Other common issues include difficulties maintaining housing standards, paying utilities bills, the cost of transport in rural areas, and paying for home supports.

Sean Moynihan, chief executive of Alone, said: “We’re trying to improve people’s quality of life, deep down that’s what we try and do.

“It’s about improving independence, quality of life, health and mental health and increase well being.

“I think for an awful lot of people, no matter what challenges they face, they want to maintain their their own autonomy, their own decision making and help them maintain their capacities.”

Alone has around 1,500 volunteers helping some 3,500 older people.

PA

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