The new Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011 may result in cuts of around €12 a week for families in receipt of job seekers assistance, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen TD.

Under the Bill which passed through the Dáil last night, the Universal Social Charge is not deductible when carrying out a means test for job seekers allowance.

Deputy Cowen said, “The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is essentially introducing a cut to job seekers assistance through the back door, by not allowing the USC to be deducted from the means testing for these payments.

“This amounts to a total sleight of hand. This cut is carefully hidden; in fact there is no explicit mention of it in the main provisions of the Bill.  The Bill clearly spells out the Universal Social Charge is deductible when means testing for family income supplement. What it doesn’t say is that the USC is not deductible in other cases. This is in spite of a decision made by the former Social Protection Minister Éamon Ó Cuív earlier this year to allow for the deduction of USC.

“In the case of job-seekers assistance, the means test is calculated