Members of Active Retirement Ireland, the country’s largest membership organisation for older people, have said that while they would welcome additional, once-off, targeted payments for pensioners as part of a spring cost-of-living package, they are calling on the Government for more supports.

At a membership meeting today (16.02.23) in north Dublin, Active Retirement Ireland members called on the Government to reform and increase the state pension as a long-term measure and to retain the reduced 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector, to help older people manage the rising cost-of-living.

Commenting on the Government’s reported yet-to-be-announced spring cost-of-living package, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland Maureen Kavanagh, said: “Although Active Retirement Ireland welcomes any extra cost-of-living payments from the Government for pensioners, older people continue to be hit hard by cost-of-living pressures and high energy costs. Despite optimistic reports of these pressures easing in the latter half of this year, the fact is that inflation in Ireland remains very high, with energy costs 33% higher than this time last year.

“Despite the increase to the pension earlier this year, the state pension now sits at just 30.6% of the current median wage in Ireland, even lower than in 2021 when the state pension equated to 32% of the median wage. In 2018, the Government committed to ensuring a state pension of 34% of the average weekly wage. Even with the increase in the most recent Budget, the full contributory state pension falls short of this by €29 a week, or €124 a month.

“The cost-of-living is still rising and older people in Ireland — many of whom already live on tight household budgets and who are struggling to live on a pension that has not kept pace with the soaring cost-of-living — need support now, and we ask that this support not only covers living costs at home but also enables older people to return to activities that keep them well.”

Ms Kavanagh continued: “Active Retirement Ireland is further calling on the Government not to increase the VAT rate for hospitality and to extend the reduced rate of 9% beyond the current expiry date of 28th February.

“Increasing the VAT rate for hospitality amid the cost-of-living crisis will put the small treats that older people may be putting a few euros aside for out of reach for many — tea out with friends and family, visiting attractions, day trips and activities, even haircuts. These are the little things that make life that little bit easier for older people who should be encouraged to get out and about, stay active and stay connected in their communities, and who are in turn contributing back to the economy.”

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