Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea says despite a number of Government u-turns on welfare payments in this Budget, most low income families are still worse off today because of a series of regressive measures brought in by Minister Joan Burton over the past three Budgets.
Deputy O’Dea commented, “Despite the fanfare coming from Government over an additional €5 a month for Child Benefit, the reality is the payment doesn’t even cover the €10 cut which was forced through last year. Minister Burton brought in more than €2bn of cuts since taking office, and while some of the measures announced today are welcome, they will not make any significant difference to the majority of low income families. In fact, the introduction of water charges next January will see any increases in benefits eroded.
“I am pleased to note that Minister Burton has adopted Fianna Fáil’s suggestions to extend the €100 water credit to fuel allowance recipients and to increase the Living Alone Allowance. While these measures are welcome, they fall far short of what is needed to support unemployed people, low income families and older people.
“The Government has failed to address the issue of long term unemployment in this Budget. There are 180,000 people who have been out of work for more than a year, but the Minister has come up with no new measures to assist those wanting to get back into the workplace. Similarly, there are more than 74,000 young people out of work, out of education and not in training. They are being penalised by the reduction in Jobseekers’ Allowance, which was brought in last year.
“This Budget will see the rich become richer, while those on low incomes will see little difference in their pockets. Most people will still be worse off after this Budget, than when the Government took office three and a half years ago, and any perceived concessions, which the Government is claiming, will be further eradicated by water charges, which are due next year”.