Offaly Deputy Barry Cowen has accused the government of betraying older people in Budget 2014.
According to Deputy Cowen, the government have singled out pensioners for the worst of the cuts next year, with a dramatic reduction in medical cards, a hike in prescription charges, the abolition of the telephone allowance, increased tax on savings and the scrapping of the bereavement grant.
“This amounts to a disgraceful attack on older people. These are people who have worked for decades, paid their taxes and made a significant contribution to society and the economy. And now in their older years they are seeing vital supports taken from them,” said Deputy Cowen.
He stated that the dramatic cut in the medical card eligibility means that a total of 100,000 people will lose their full medical cards adding that on top of that, there is a huge hike in prescription charges to €2.50. Deputy Cowen noted that that iss a five-fold increase from the original charge of 50 cent which James Reilly promised to abolish when he was appointed Minister for Health.
He continued, “Removing the telephone allowance adds to the security risks of older people across Offaly who already feel isolated and vulnerable in their homes. For many people, their phone is linked to their home and personal security alarms. When the telephone allowance is scrapped many older people won’t be able to keep their landlines and they will be forced to give up that important element of their personal security.
“In addition to this, the government is targeting people’s nest eggs – savings that many older people have worked for years to accumulate. This hike in DIRT tax will hit them in the pocket. And Fine Gael didn’t stop there – they have scrapped the bereavement grant which is a modest support for widows and widowers to help them with funeral costs when their loved one dies.
“Just a few years ago, Minister for Health James Reilly said he was ‘proud to stand up for the generation that built this country’. Now he is betraying that generation. I am calling on the government to seriously reconsider its approach before it’s too late,” concluded Deputy Cowen.