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Closure of Covid-19 Hardship Fund ‘shows need for increased supports for older people’

A Laois TD says Government must do more for older people in wake of the Covid-19 Hardship fund closing yesterday, earlier than planned.

Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley says the large volume of applications for the grant is a clear sign that the Government needs to do more to support vulnerable people during the pandemic.

The fund was set up to give a €500 grant to vulnerable people who need technology to communicate with loved ones, or who have incurred extra costs from cocooning such as increased utility bills.

Mr Stanley said: “The Age Action and Red Cross Covid-19 Hardship Fund received over 10,000 applications on behalf of older people in just a few short weeks.

“Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications and the lack of funding available, these bodies have had to take the difficult decision to close the fund to new applicants from next week onwards.

“The original deadline was the end of August and it is clear that even Age Action and the Red Cross did not anticipate the level of hardship currently being experienced by older people in this crisis.

“Earlier this month, Sinn Féin criticised the exclusion of over 66s from the financial supports available to other workers as the government refused to allow over 66s access the Covid-19 Unemployment Payment.

“While I commend Age Action and the Red Cross for their very worthwhile initiative and efforts in securing funding, it is clear that it is now time for the government to step up to the plate and provide additional financial supports to vulnerable older people that are struggling through this crisis.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.