Callely outlines Government´s record on older people
This Government believes supporting older people must be a core priority of Government. Ivor Callely TD, Minister for Services for Older People, speaking this afternoon said “We, as a Government, have delivered record increases in pensions, but there has also been a lot of progress in developing new care services and extending entitlement to free GP care and other free schemes. No other party has a record to match this. But we want to go further, increasing pensions to a minimum of €200 with higher increases for pensioner couples. We also want to help older people live in dignity and provide for them to receive care at home if that’s what they prefer.”
Minister Callely outlined his Government´s record by pointing out:
- Since 1997 we have increased spending on care services for Older People by almost €200m;
- Medical cards have been extended to all over 70´s for the first time;
- There have been unprecedented rises in the Social Welfare Pension 1997 – 2002 and drawing particular attention to the creation of the Carer´s Allowance (since 1997 the numbers in receipt of this payment have increased by over 117.4% from 9,200 to over 20,000 at mid-October 2002).
Minister Callely confirmed that this Government plans to:
- increase the basic state pension to at least €200. Since 1997 up to June 2002 the Non-Contributory Pension has increased by by 22% and the Contributory Pension by 15% over the average industrial wage;
- introduce a Homemaker´s Pension, set at the level of a full non-contributory pension. This will benefit pensioner couples where their second pension is currently set at the lower rate of the Qualified Adults Allowance.
- introduce a new Care Allowance which would support the maximum independence desired by older people and allow them to receive support for care at home or in a dedicated facility.
Minister Callely said this afternoon “This Government recognises the full measured contribution and role of older people in building up our country. They cared for us and now it is our turn to care for them. We want to maintain older people in dignity and independence and our aim is to maintain strong social inclusion for older people.”
The Minister paid tribute to the role played by both the statutory and voluntary sectors who work in partnership to develop the services required to meet the needs of our older people. Since coming into office the Minister has met with many of the representative organisations for older people in the country. The Minister has entered into dialogue with those organizations whose experience will assist in the planning and development of services. He has established an Inter-Departmental Group between several Government Departments and he is determined to streamline the administration of the services available to older people.
The Minister concluded by saying “Each member of the community can play their part by “calling to” older neighbours or generally “keeping an eye out” for older neighbours.”