Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described a plan by Fine Gael to bring people earning as little as €13,000 a year in to the PRSI net as a further example of hypocrisy at the heart of Fine Gael’s election plans.

Deputy McGrath commented, “In recent weeks Fine Gael have been trying to give the impression that they have undergone a transformation and have a new found concern for low income families. At their Ard Fheis they were trumpeting the fact that 700,000 do not pay USC. The Minister for Finance even claimed they would split available resources 70:30 between expenditure and taxes. They have yet to credibly explain how they can do this alongside abolishing USC and putting 25% of the fiscal space aside for a “Contingency Reserve Fund”.

“Now it seems that Fine Gael wants to lower the income threshold to bring ten thousands of workers earning as little as €250 a week into the PRSI net on a principle of “everybody pays something”. It is difficult to see how this is compatible with Fine Gael claiming credit for taking people out of USC net.

“Fine Gael flip flop between emphasising tax cuts on the one hand before talking up recruiting thousands of additional public servants. Now they are swerving between claiming to support the low paid one day while the next day they are planning to reduce their take home pay.

“This tax on the low paid is apparently to cater for the extension of dental and optical benefits. However Fine Gael’s track record has been to slash PRSI benefits over the last four years including changes to the eligibility for the State Pension, a reduction in the period of entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit, abolition of the Bereavement Grant payment and an increase in the number of waiting days for entitlement to Illness Benefit.

“Fianna Fáil is the only party in this election that will offer a genuine middle ground alternative based on affordable and fair reductions in tax together with much needed investment in education, the health service and housing.”