Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has condemned the Labour party’s betrayal of the most vulnerable in today’s budget as “yet another cave in by a pointless Labour party”.
Minister Burton’s abolition of the Telephone Allowance will affect over 394,671 people, including the old, the disabled and carers. Almost 30,000 carers rely on this Allowance while more than 56,000 disabled people also receive this Allowance.
Deputy O’Dea stated: “The abolition of the Telephone Allowance is mean and dangerous. It is taken as regular income by older people and is essentially a cut of €9.50 to their pensions every month. This is disproportionate, unfair and will threaten the security and welfare of the most vulnerable in Irish society.
“What Minister Burton fails to appreciate is that many older people need their phone line in order to install panic buttons or home security systems. The Allowance allows older people to ensure they can stay in contact with their loved ones in an easy and accessible way. The abolition of this Allowance threatens the very security and welfare of the old, the disabled and their carers.
“This budget’s targeting of older people is on an unprecedented scale with the abolition of the Bereavement Grant, the shameless grabbing of 30,000 Medical Cards, the increase in prescription charges and the abolition of the Telephone Allowance. All these cuts will have a direct and lasting impact on the most vulnerable and in particular, the elderly.
“These measures will put the final nail in the Taoiseach’s goal of making Ireland the ‘best small country in the world in which to grow old’. Last year, the Government cut over 1 million home care hours for the elderly, shut down the Mobility Allowance, cut the respite care grant by 20% and reduced the Fuel Allowance from 32 to 26 weeks, all directly impacting on older people and the most vulnerable.
“Fianna Fáil’s fully costed budget proposals ensured a fairer future for Ireland and protected the elderly from cuts and reductions in services.”