Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea says working families need to be protected in the upcoming Budget. His comments come following the publication of an ESRI report which found women, and particularly working mothers, have been hardest hit by this Government’s unfair Budgets over the past three years.
Deputy O’Dea commented, “This study reveals the extent to which families have been actively targeted by a range of cutbacks brought in over successive Budgets. Minister Burton has stood over cuts to child benefit, despite promising to protect core social welfare payments. She slapped a tax on maternity benefit and slashed the One Parent Family Allowance; moves which disproportionately impact on women. Despite the Government rhetoric on gender issues, it has single-handedly implemented a number of measures which discriminate against working mothers.
“As childcare costs increase, this Minister has seen fit to cut child benefit, increasing the pressure on working families. In some cases parents have been forced to give up their jobs to care for their children because a series of tax increases and benefit cuts mean it is no longer economically viable to stay in work.
“The punitive measures taken by this Government over the past three and a half years have not only targeted those who are just about keeping their heads above water, but they also directly contradict its own back-to-work policy. In fact, many of the cuts which have been introduced are acting as a direct deterrent for parents who want to return to work.
“Ministers need to re-evaluate the regressive measures which have been introduced by Fine Gael and Labour. There needs to be a re-balancing of the austerity agenda to support working families to replace the punishing cuts which they have been forced to endure over the past three and a half years”.