Pre-Budget Submission 2015
We are pleased to note that at last there appears to be light at the end of a very long period of austerity and hopefully we can soon “DECENTLY BURY AUSTERITY”. An examination of the position shows very clearly that while the basic rate of pension has remained the same, the value and buying power of the older person and in particular those older people living alone has been very much reduced. In this budget we are again making a plea for their position to be considered as well as those of the older old.
What the ISCP wants for Older People
HOUSEHOLD BENEFITS PACKAGE
- Agree a timeframe for the Restoration of the Package
- Restore the Telephone allowance
- Return to a Unit based system for Utilities instead of Cash
LIVING ALONE AND OVER 80 AGE ALLOWANCE
- We seek an increase of €5 per week for both payments
- We seek an additional 2 weeks payment and a commitment to pay additional weeks when the temperature falls below a level to be agreed.
- An Increase of €5 per week for Older People aged 65 to bring their Job Seeker Benefit to €193 per week
- That the Minister for Enterprise Jobs and Innovation bring forward legislation to clarify the matter and to specify the rights and entitlements of workers.
TRAVEL PASS SCHEME
- We are pleased that this scheme will continue in its present format. It is of huge benefit to many older people to enable them to socialise, volunteer and assist families
UNIVERSAL SOCIAL CHARGE
- Increase the income level at which people become liable to pay USC and that the 2% rate remains until they reach a limit of €25,000
- A notional rebate method be agreed to cater for those pensioners who have no entitlement to any state payments.
REFUNDABLE TAX CREDITS
- That those on low incomes be given in cash the equivalent of the credit.
STAMP DUTY ON PENSION FUNDS
- This levy must be abolished and the legislation repealed and a Protection Fund be set up similar to the fund in the United Kingdom.
Stamp Duty paid per year (Pension Levy)
OVER 70S MEDICAL Cards
- Older People want the medical card restored. The current draconian review process is causing undue hardship and anxiety and must be stopped.
- Older People in Nursing Homes with no disposable income must be given a card as of right.
- The €25 cap per household is very onerous on people who live alone. If the charges are not to be abolished then a 50% reduction to €12.50 should apply to them.
HSE DRUGS REFUND SCHEME
- The €144 cap is too much for single households. It should be reduced by at least 50%.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE RELIEF
- As a result of the lack of progress in the area of Health and Universal Health Insurance, together with the large numbers of older people who are losing Medical Cards, we ask that the relief be restored to the total premium paid and that medical expenses be allowed at the marginal rate.
- We are aware that work has been done to try to alleviate some of the hardship which older people will experience in paying for water through the social welfare system.
- Many older people live in houses which do not have efficient heating, insulation or water conservation systems. Even with grants many cannot undertake the work due to inability to provide money upfront.
- The Parliament is seeking to have all social welfare pensioners and those with equivalent levels of occupational pensions to be exempt from the charges.
PAY PER VIEW TV
- We are asking the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in the first instance to ensure that our native games are continued as Free to Air.
- Simultaneously we ask that a fund be set up jointly funded by the Associations and SKY to assist people experiencing hardship.
SECURITY FOR OLDER PEOPLE
- We ask that a cross departmental group be set up to examine ways and means to ensure that modern protection systems are put in place to enable older people to live safely without fear in their homes.
RIGHT OF AUDIENCE OF PENSIONERS
- The speed with which pension scheme trustees have set about implementing the measures in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2013 (No 2) are a cause of concern to all pensioners.
- We are seeking a right of audience for pensioners at all forums where their present and future pension payments are being discussed and decisions are made. This matter is urgent as when previously we raised this matter we were told that pensioners were excluded because pensions in payment (PIPS) could not be changed. This position has now been changed by the enactment of the above referenced Bill.
CRISIS IN THE HEALTH SERVICES
We note the appointment of a new Minister and we will give him a period of time to get to grips with his new portfolio. Time is of the essence for sick and ill people in this country.
The level of services available to young and old have deteriorated. There is a perception of inertia surrounding all of the services. On a daily basis older people are losing medical cards and those who retain them are self-rationing their medication because of prescription charges. Step down and community care places have waiting lists and places in residential care are difficult to access. Fair Deal is a further problem.
The Parliament considers this matter so grave that it is calling on government to appoint a special emergency cabinet group to resolve the matter and for the appointment for a fixed period of individual ministers who will be given total responsibility to deal with specific areas whether they are by lifecycle category or by care type. Not all the areas may necessarily lie within the health portfolio such as Universal Health Insurance (UHI) where the payment for the service, the delivery and who delivers it may not fall within the remit of one Department. Private Insurance whether health or otherwise is a method of paying for a service in the same way that people see tax as a payment for public services. Conscious that UHI may now be scrapped we will reserve comment on it.
We are calling for government to treat the Health situation as an “EMERGENCY” and to convene a round table conference of all stakeholders to work together to solve this problem and to bring some realistic solutions to the table. We are confident it can be done and we are willing to assist. To this end we have not made any serious recommendations in this submission beyond the Call for Health to be declared as and EMERGENCY.
Every Effort is made to ensure that all information in this Pre Budget Submission is correct at time of going to press. The ISCP cannot accept responsibility for errors.