Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has accused the Government of a bitter betrayal on supports for older people following confirmation that almost 1.2 million home help hours have been slashed over the past five years.

The Cork North Central Deputy said many older people are finding it more and more difficult to continue living at home following a substantial reduction in home help supports since this Government came into office.

“The cuts to home help hours for older people are nothing short of disgraceful and are another example of the Government’s failure to keep the promises it made in order to get itself elected.  Fine Gael and Labour committed to increasing home help supports year on year.  What has happened is the complete opposite.  The assistance hours have been slashed by around 10% over the past five years, and as a result of these harsh cuts, older people are finding it increasingly difficult to stay living in their own comes”, explained Deputy Kelleher.

“Figures provided to me at a recent Oireachtas Health Committee meeting show that the number of home help hours is down from 11,680,516 in 2010 to a projected 10,447,000 in 2015 – a fall of 1,253,516 hours over five years.”

“This cut clearly highlights the extent of the Government’s betrayal of its Programme for Government commitment in relation to home supports for older people.  It’s another example of Fine Gael and Labour’s continued attack on older people and people with disabilities.  The cuts to over 70’s medical cards, to home adaption grants, to the housing aid for older people scheme, to the telephone allowance, the abolition of the bereavement grant, and the five fold hike in prescription charges have had a serious impact on older people across the country.

“It is deeply unfair for the Government to continue to target older people in this way, it’s also extremely counterproductive.  By failing to provide the supports needed to allow people to live securely and with dignity in their own homes, the Government is forcing these people onto the already overburdened hospital system and costing the tax-payer more in the long-run.”