The main focus of the EU_SHAFE project is to improve policies across the 7 European Regions to reflect SHAFE, particularly the Regional Operational Programmes. However, we in Louth also feel it is important to look at national and local policies and attempt to insert SHAFE fundamentals into them. We feel it is valuable to take every opportunity to highlight SHAFE to all sectors during policy formation. We are keen to make a difference for our older population by emphasising the need for policies to be viewed through the lens of “age and place”.

In late September, in advance of the Irish Annual Budget, the Irish EU_SHAFE Project, led by Louth County Council and in conjunction with TU Dublin and Louth Age Friendly County made a submission to the Irish Minister for Finance seeking an increase to the Household Benefits Payment. The Household Benefits payment is a Social Welfare Payment for which all those over 70 are eligible. We argued that, with the increased need for older people to stay connected with family and essential services through internet/broadband, while remaining safe, would put an increased cost on the household budgets of older people.

Unfortunately, the 2021 Budget has focused mainly on job creation, keeping businesses viable and retaining payments to those unemployed as a result of the pandemic and no increase in the Household Budget was forthcoming. However, there was an increase of €5 per week in the Living Alone Allowance which should help to offset increased daily living costs for those who live alone including the cost of broadband/internet.

Full information about the pre-budget submission to the Irish National Annual Budget can be found here