Budget 2018: making older years better years

Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has highlighted the Budget 2018 measures which will benefit elderly people in Cork, building on Fine Gael’s commitment to make our older years our better years.

Senator Lombard said: “Fine Gael wants to give everyone a fair chance and ensure they have the opportunity to reach their full potential. A part of this is sharing the benefits of our return to economic growth by improving the lives of those in their better years.

“There are a number of measures in Budget 2018 that will help achieve this.

“Firstly, the State Pension will increase by €5 from March onwards. This builds on increases of €5 last year and €3 the year before. Prior to that pensioners hadn’t seen any increases since 2009 as a result of the economic crisis. However Fine Gael made sure to protect the State Pension from cuts during the crisis period. It is great now to be able to give modest but sustainable increases which will make a difference to older people.

“We are also working to ensure that older people can stay in their own homes for as long as they wish. Budget 2018 helps with this by increasing in funding for home adaptation grants which will enable up to 11,000 grants to be undertaken to support older people remain at home for longer. There is also an additional €37 million for Home Care packages and transitional care beds.

“Of course some people will wish to access nursing home care as they get older. Budget 2018 provides increased funding to support residential care services arising from an ageing population.

“Older people in Cork will benefit from the extension of the Fuel Allowance to 27 weeks, into the first week of April 2018, as well as the introduction of a Telephone Support Allowance of €2.50 per week for those in receipt of both the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance.

“Prescription charges for all medical card holders under 70 have also been reduced from €2.50 per item to €2 per item with a subsequent reduction in the monthly cap from €25 to €20. Additionally, families can save up to €120 a year in medication costs with a reduction of €10 in the monthly threshold for Drug Payment Scheme.

“An enhancement of the JobsPlus scheme to support workers aged 50 or over into employment will help those people who do not wish to retire early. Employers will receive a subsidy of €10,000 to employ any long-term unemployed person aged over 50.

“Furthermore the introduction of an additional investment of €10 million in the Free Travel Scheme is designed to encourage new operators into the scheme and to broaden coverage in more remote parts of rural Ireland. This is great news for older people availing of the scheme, particularly for our largely rural county.

“All these measures have been aimed at making our older years better years. Fine Gael will continue to protect our economic growth and ensure we use the resources to continue advancing this ambition.”