A few short weeks ago during the General Election, Government was telling us that older people would have to work longer in order to get their pension from the State.
Yet, in contradiction to that, it is now denying the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment to people over the age of 66 who are working either part-time or full-time.
This is totally unacceptable.
Anybody who is working and who has lost their job – regardless of age – should be entitled to this payment.
These very people were ‘leading by example’ in terms of Government the policy of pushing up the retirement age and they are the very first people to be sacrificed in terms of welfare support.
This is an issue that I have consistently highlighted in briefings, submissions and in Dáil Eireann over the last number of weeks and yet we are making no progress. That is why my colleagues in the Regional Group will again raise this issue today.
That is why we need a Dáil to be sitting to hold Ministers accountable during this crisis.
Lack of accountability leads to the denial of rights to our citizens.
In fact, there seems to be a failure to even recognise that this:
a) is a problem with a severe loss of income for some older people who may need it to make repayments – they don’t really have the option of a deferral
b) undermines the mantra of the official policy of the Department of Social Protection that older people should work until they are older.
How can the Department credibly defend its policy to push up the retirement age when it is turning its back on those older people who have been contributing to the economy until this crisis? People who, as a result, believed the Department of Social Protection would support that decision in their hour of need.
Instead it is just turning its back on these very people.