'We're bitterly disappointed' - pension increase welcomed but frustration over lack of support for 'carers in crisis'
The increase in social welfare payments has received a welcoming response from many pensioners, but carers have expressed "bitter disappointment" over a lack of changes offered to help "under-supported" staff.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue announced next year's Budget earlier this afternoon, which will see €5 increase per week for social welfare payments, including pensions- but it will be delayed until March 2019.
It was also confirmed that there would be a full restoration of the Christmas bonus and a 50c reduction to prescription charges for over 70s.
Active Retirement Ireland said they were giving the Budget a "cautious welcome" and that they would like to see the €5 increase implemented before next March.
"We’re giving this Budget a cautious welcome. It contains some measures that will help older people, but a lot remains to be done to ensure people can enjoy a good quality of life and appropriate healthcare supports as they age," Peter Kavanagh, Head of Communications and Public Affairs at Active Retirement Ireland said.
“Whilst we welcome the €5 pension increase, the delaying of its introduction until March 2019 effectively makes it a €3 increase. We are calling on Government to fully realise their commitment to a €5 increase and to introduce it at a sooner date."
Mr Kavanagh praised the return of the full Christmas bonus for allowing the elderly to enjoy the festive period this year.
"The full restoration of the Christmas Bonus is a welcome measure. We are glad older people will be able to enjoy Christmas 2018 to its fullest, with a double payment to help with their Christmas shopping and to allow them socialise with family and friends during the festive season.
One Irish grandmother was also delighted with the news about the bonus, saying she could see it helping a lot of her generation with Christmas shopping this year.
"I'm grateful for the Christmas bonus, all social welfare recipients will appreciate it, but it will help with getting presents for the grandchildren. I'm very grateful for the cheaper medicines too," Ellen Reddin told Independent.ie.
But the 78-year-old criticised the lack of changes for pensioners, explaining that she was hoping for more.
"I just thought to myself, it sounds like all the old age pensioners simply don’t matter," she said.
"And yes there's the €5 increase but hat’s not going to happen until March, they do this on us every time. We’ll have to wait and see. I was sitting there thinking I had missed something about pensioners."
Ms Reddin, who lives in Ballymun in Dublin, also said she hoped that more would be done for care packages across the country.
"There was absolutely nothing about the care package. If you want to stay in your own home, you need a carer. If they don’t do something they’ll have more people homeless," she said.
Family Carers Ireland said there were plenty of angry carers around the country following the Budget speech this afternoon.
"I’ve got quite a number of texts for carers, they're angry and disappointed. It's supposed to be a caring budget but they haven't tackled the crisis that is home-care," Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland told Independent.ie.
"We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has ignored the most important issues in our pre-budget submission focusing on carers in crisis. It is evident that carers are under-supported and have difficulty accessing the services they desperately need, in particular respite care to give them a much-needed break.
"A post-code lottery of services exists whereby where you live determines whether you will receive supports or not. To add to this, we have seen home supports cut significantly over the last 9 years alongside a greater number of people requiring care."
- Read more: 'My own granny was able to grow old gracefully but you can't do that now' - Woman (78) on poverty among pensioners