PENSIONERS are going to bed at 7pm to stay warm because they cannot afford to heat their homes.
And others admit they are having to “choose food over fuel while some can no longer afford a cup of tea in a cafe to meet a friend.
Their plight was revealed today by Age Action Ireland which warned that the cumulative succession of austerity budgets is taking a heavy toll on older people.
Launching its pre-Budget submission the national older people’s charity said the extreme measures pensioners are having to endure were highlighted during a series of regional meetings earlier this year.
Spokesman Eamon Timmins said: “The feedback as to the extent of the hardship being caused and the steps which older people were taking to adapt to the cutbacks and rising prices was shocking.”
The submission highlights how older people on fixed or falling incomes were being hit on four sides with new taxes and charges, cuts to their income supports, rising prices for essential goods and services, and cuts to publicly funded services which they were dependent on to remain living independently in their own homes.
“Faced with growing pressure from all sides, many older people are being faced with very tough decisions as to what to pay for, and what to do without,” it warned.
He said the submission “smashes the myth that older people have been exempt from austerity measures.”
On the contrary, older people dependent on the State for their income and essential services are among those who have been hit hardest by austerity.
“On the income side fixed pensions are expected to pay a series of new taxes and charges including including the property tax (equivalent to two or three weeks pension for some) and the prescription charge which trebled in the last budget.
They are also faced with the carbon tax (extended this year to solid fuel); and the increased charge on a person’s home (from 15pc to 22.5pc) for a nursing home bed.
The submission calls for:
*Protection of the State Pension, given its importance as the bulwark against poverty in later life for many State Pensioners;
*The reversal of cuts to the Household Benefits Package introduced in Budget 2013;
*Ring-fencing of all carbon tax revenue to address Ireland’s fuel poverty situation;
*A property tax exemption for households with an income of under €12,000 per annum, and scrapping of the 4% interest charge for low income households who opt to defer the payment.