Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, has labelled Junior Minister Brian Hayes’ comments on reducing the social welfare payment as “bizarre”.
The Minister of State at the Department of Finance has said that the shortfall in the social insurance fund should be bridged by reducing the social welfare spend.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “I find it bizarre that Deputy Hayes wants to reduce the social welfare spend. In Government, Fianna Fáil increased the social welfare rate quite substantially because the poverty gap had increased.
“We were criticised by Fine Gael constantly at the time for not increasing the rate further and not doing enough to bridge the poverty gap. Analysis by Social Justice Ireland between 1986 and 2001 found that the take home pay of clerical officers in the public sector rose by €392 per week; the take home pay of people on the average industrial wage went up by €344 but the average take home pay of a single person on social welfare only went up €136.
“The number of people under the poverty line has risen, Social Justice Ireland’s analysis of last year’s budget found that it was the most unequal since 2008. Figures also show that the poorest 40% of households lost between 2 and 2 ½ % of income as result of last year’s budget. This is in comparison to the richest 30% who only lost 0.7% of their income. More and more people are in danger of falling below the poverty line - the solution should not be to reduce the social welfare rate further.
“The income of the top 10% of people is 14 times that of the bottom 10% per week, but Minister Hayes wants to increase this gap further, I find it beyond belief.
“The Minister’s comments demonstrate how quickly he and his colleagues have become disconnected with reality. Instead of looking for solutions to these problems, the Government seem intent on targeting areas where they think they can raise additional finance with the minimum of protest. Fianna Fáil will robustly resist any attempts to target social welfare rates,” concluded Deputy O’Dea.