Active Retirement Ireland’s pre-budget submissions outlining our proposals for increased provision and support for older people in Budget 2023 have been provided to the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Health and members of the Dáil.
Pre-Budget 2023 Submission: Department of Social Protection
Objective: Ensure older people in Ireland are respected and valued for their lifelong contribution to the Irish social and economic landscape by enabling them to live with dignity, security, independence and respect after retirement.
Summary of proposals:
- Increase the weekly State Pension by €15 and commit to work towards the government’s goal for a state pension of 34% of the average weekly earnings
- Depoliticise the State Pension by “triple locking” payment rates to guarantee future income
- Increase the Living Alone Allowance from €22 to €25 per week
- Maintain the current rate of €33 per week for the Fuel Allowance and reintroduce the 32-week payment period
- Review the eligibility for the Fuel Allowance (increase means test threshold for the Fuel Allowance to maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) including any increases for age, living alone and dependants, plus €150.)
- Review the Telephone Allowance to transform it to the Digital Connection Allowance to support older people to participate in online activities such as telemedicine, banking and digital communications
- In transforming the Telephone Allowance to the Digital Connection Allowance, increase the allowance by €2.50 per week (to €5 per week) to offer meaningful contribution to both the cost of communications and/or a home alert system as well as the cost of broadband
- Increase the monthly Household Benefit Package allowance towards gas/electricity by €5 per month to reflect the recent increases in utilities
- Increase means test threshold for the Household Benefits Package to maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) including any increases for age, living alone and dependants, plus €150.
- Maintain the Free Travel Scheme and the Christmas bonus
- Set the framework for implementation of National Positive Ageing Strategy or any other tool the government will set up to ensure people in Ireland are empowered and supported to age well.
Pre-Budget 2023 Submission: Department of Health
Budget 2023 provides an opportunity for Ireland to position itself as a world leader in how we treat our older citizens, particularly during times of crisis. Supporting older people to be able to prioritise their health and medical needs despite the rising cost of living, and making healthcare more accessible is essential to protecting and promoting better quality of life among older people.
Objective: Ensure older people in Ireland are respected and valued for their lifelong contribution to the Irish social and economic landscape by enabling all older people to prioritise their health, not only those with means, to live with dignity, independence and highest quality of life after retirement.
Summary of proposals:
- Base the entitlement to the medical card for the over-70s on net income, not gross.
- Make the application for medical cards more user-friendly and less restrictive.
- Remove the cost of blood tests and diagnostic screening carried out at GP practices for patients with GP visit cards.
- Abolish any charges associated with prescription items for medical card holders.
- Remove the upper age-limit on access to free government breast, bowel and cervical screening schemes.
- Institute a coherent system of supports so that older people can stay in their own homes to end of life, as so many want to do.
- Take ageism seriously and implement a well-resourced and meaningful programme of action to counteract it.
- Appoint a champion with a cross-departmental brief to prioritise older people’s issues across the board and resource the active implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy (2013) or any other implementation structure.
- Establish an independent Commissioner or Ombudsman for Older People, similar to that in Northern Ireland.
- Develop a whole of government strategy to ageing that allows all older to age with dignity, respect and independence for as long as possible.