Active Retirement Ireland calls for Budget 2022 to include urgent transformation of Telephone Support Allowance into ‘Digital Connection Allowance’
15th September 2021
Budget 2022 must focus on supporting older people to participate in online activities such as telemedicine, electronic banking and digital communications. That’s according to Active Retirement Ireland, which says this issue is more pertinent since Covid-19, as older people have had to rely on technology for basic services and social interaction.
The country’s largest representative organisation for older people is calling for the Telephone Support Allowance to be transformed into the ‘Digital Connection Allowance’, to support older people’s participation online and ensure they have the appropriate access and skills to engage with digital services.
Commenting in advance of Budget 2022, due to be announced on 12th October, Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, said: “Budget 2022 must support the reality that older people are now required to conduct essential everyday tasks and activities online, such as banking, renewing prescriptions and communicating using electronic devices like mobile phones. Covid-19 highlighted this digital shift and there is now an urgent need for a Digital Connection Allowance based on a review and transformation of the Telephone Allowance.”
Active Retirement Ireland is also calling for an increase of €15.00 in the weekly state pension to bring it to a rate of 34% of average weekly earnings. It says the state pension must be triple-locked, which means guaranteeing that it will increase by either a minimum of 2.5%, the rate of inflation, or average earnings growth, whichever is the largest.
Maureen Kavanagh continued, “Budget 2022 must reflect the Government’s commitment to work towards the goal for a state pension of 34% of average weekly earnings. The current rate is around 32% and when the pension is not increased, this gap widens each year. Similarly, the pension must be triple-locked. This is European best practice and provides stability and security for older people. It guarantees a minimum increase every year and gives them peace of mind.”