An increase of €5 a week in the State pension and a reduction in the prescription charge for medical card holders to €1.50 are among key measures needed in the upcoming Budget to ease the financial hardship of pensioners, according to a submission by Age Action Ireland.
Next month's Budget is expected to contain a number of measures to woo the 'grey vote' in the upcoming general election, with pressure on Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Health Minister Leo Varadkar in particular to deliver.
Age Action, in a costed pre-Budget submission, said the rise in the old age pension would mean an increase in Exchequer spending of around €117.5m.
However, this is essential, it said, in order to address the cumulative impact of previous budgets in terms of loss of income and the introduction of new levies, such as water charges.
"Since 2009, an older person depending on the State pension and the Household Benefits Package has seen their income cut by more than €13 a week," said the organisation's head of advocacy, Justin Moran.
He warned that many older people were now struggling to pay taxes along with rising fuel and health costs, saying: "Pensioners in this country should not be forced to choose between paying for medicine and keeping the heating on."
He added that the living alone allowance should rise by €2.40 and the telephone allowance should be restored over the next two Budgets.