herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Elderly forced to choose between fuel and food as cuts misery hits

ELDERLY people are being forced to choose between fuel and food as cuts continue to cause them misery.

Charity group Age Action called for the government to ease the burden on older Irish people in next year's budget because they are struggling to survive at the moment.

Eamon Timmons of Age Action said: "We have heard personal accounts of people remaining in bed for pro-longed periods because they could not afford to heat their homes to a safe level, and people being forced to choose between food, fuel and medication because they could not afford all three."

uNACCEPTABLE

The 'unacceptable' choices that elderly people are being forced to make need to be addressed in budget 2015 said the group. The group said the situation on the ground shows that something must be done to care for vulnerable elderly people.

Ellen Reddin a 74-year-old widow has echoed the call for a halt to the continuous cuts.

"If they keep cutting our supports I'm not going to be able to live," she told the Herald and added that, "at the minute it's a survival pension and that's all it is".

The Ballymun woman said that as the cost of her bills continue to creep up that she is living in fear of what might come in the next budget.

"It's a scary time for people like me," she said and added "it's almost not worth your time getting old in Ireland anymore".

The Dublin woman said that she is one of the lucky ones because she is getting by, but barely.

"It's going to get to the stage when we can't even afford basic foodstuff," she told the Herald. Age Action want a €5 weekly increase to the state pension.

The group also asked the government to go back to the older model of fuel allowances which saw those eligible get a fuel allowance for 32 weeks instead of 26. Since austerity hit the elderly have faced set back after set back when budget time rolls around.

Mr Timmons said: "On the one hand, older people have been hit by a series of cuts in recent budgets and increased charges in recent years, ranging from the abolition of the telephone allowance, and cuts to fuel supports."

Meanwhile prescription costs have increased five fold.

Pleas for a kinder budget for the elderly come just after Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton was forced to pledge to leave the free travel pass scheme alone in next year's budget.

hnews@herald.ie

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