Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen TD has said he is astounded by the outright hypocrisy from the Labour Party in relation to cuts to social welfare allowances.
Deputy Cowen said: “In opposition, the Labour Party held themselves up as the champions of struggling families unable to meet their household bills. How quickly they have forgotten these values. Labour’s Joan Burton, now the Minister for Social Protection, has decided to make significant cuts to fuel and telephone allowances in a move that will hit the most vulnerable in society.
“In October 2010, the Labour Party tabled a motion on fuel poverty calling on the Government to do more to help people struggling to pay their bills. During the debate on this motion, Labour told the Dáil that thousands of people were unable to pay their gas and electricity bills and they accused the Government of being a ‘disgrace’ for not providing more funding for social welfare allowances.”
“We are living on an island off Europe where it gets cold and it is damp. The Government is a disgrace. It must begin to give consideration to those for whom it is responsible, the poor and the newly poor” - Kathleen Lynch, Oct. 13th 2010
“People are not able to heat their homes. Their electricity and gas supplies are being disconnected. Suddenly, tens of thousands of people are at risk of fuel poverty. The situation will not get better. It will continue to deteriorate” – Joe Costello, Oct. 13th 2010)
“Minister Burton’s decision this week to slash electricity and gas payments and cut the telephone allowance flies in the face of all of these arguments from her Labour Party colleagues. It also is the first concrete evidence of the Government’s u-turn on its solemn promise to protect social welfare rates. The Minister announced these cuts on the same week that people have been hit with the news that significant electricity and gas prices are on the way. Not only will households be stretched even further to meet these price hikes, but the most vulnerable will now be provided with less support from the State as a result of the Labour decision.”