Sinn Féin proposes measures to improve lives of older citizens – Peadar Tóibín
Sinn Féin TD for Meath East, Peadar Tóibín, has outlined the many measures proposed by Sinn Féin in order to reverse the harshest government cuts to older citizens. Deputy was speaking following the lauch of Sinn Féin’s fully costed alternative budget yesterday.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“It’s a sad reality that our older citizens had to bear the brunt of many of the harshest budget cuts imposed by governments over the past number of years. While an increase in the Christmas bonus and marginal increase in the pension were welcome in last year’s budget, they did not make up for the series of cruel budget cuts imposed by Fine Gael.
“The telephone allowance was abolished, the fuel allowance season cut by six weeks, there were cuts to the household benefits package and the bereavement grant was removed all had terrible consequences for older people. In addition to these cuts there were prescription charges, water charges and the household charges – regressive taxes in that they hit all people equally, regardless of income or ability to pay.
“Our older citizens who have retired at 65 years have also had to contend with having to apply for Jobseekers Allowance as they cannot access their pension for a year due to increases in the qualifying age for the state pension. There are now more people aged 65 than any other age group in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance – this is absolutely unacceptable.
“Sinn Féin has proposed a package for older people to restore some of the comfort and dignity they are due. Overall, we are proposing that €410.55 million in various supports for our older people. The sum being invested in the protection of older people is very broad, ranging from tackling fuel costs to supporting those pensioners living alone.
“Under our plan 190,000 older citizens in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance will see their pension increase by almost €300 per year. As pensioners living alone account for over 40% of all State pension recipients, these are the pensioners who need the largest increase in assistance. All other pension recipients will see their pension rise by at least €182 per year.
“We have outlined how citizens who retire from work (or, who in many cases are forced to retire) aged 65 will be entitled to claim the full rate of state pension, which will see their payment increase by €2,340 per year – in place having to claim Jobseekers Allowance.
“Many pensioners will also benefit from three additional weeks of Fuel Allowance payment which we are proposing to introduce, as well as the introduction of a Bereavement Grant of €600. We also propose to increase home help hours by 10% as well as increase homecare packages by 10% to a value of 10%.
“In addition to these social protection supports, we are proposing to reduce Prescription Charges by €1 and abolish the Local Property Tax and Water Charges - measures which will benefit virtually every older citizen across the State.
“The multiple proposals we have for the older people in our alternative budget is about addressing the day to day reality that many older people face. We believe that older people have the right to age with dignity, security and support. We seek to create a fairer Ireland for all our citizens at every stage of their lives and believe that our budget proposals, fully costed by the Department of Finance show that this vision can become reality.”