Senator Thomas Byrne has condemned the letters issued to one parent families this week, the week before Christmas. The letters inform the parents of cuts to their benefits, some of which come in to effect on 1 January 2012.

Senator Byrne tried to raise the matter in the Seanad today but was voted down by the Government.

He commented, “The Department of Social Protection has adopted a Scrooge-like approach. These letters refer in the main to changes that Joan Burton brought in last year, so why do they choose now, a year later, in the week before Christmas to inform recipients of these changes.

“At best this shows extremely poor judgement from the Minister and at worst represents a deliberate attempt on the part of the Minister to seek to bury bad news over Christmas.”

The letter related to the means-test for the One Parent Family Payment and the criteria for making additional payments where there is more than one child.