Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says there cannot be any circumstances in which it is more profitable to live off social welfare than it is to work.

Deputy O’Dea was reacting to media reports today, which suggest that some families could be €4,000 a year better off on social welfare compared to one parent working full-time on a minimum wage job.

“Today’s figures published in the ‘Irish Independent’ make for worrying reading. We have previously heard the Taoiseach pronounce that he is “declaring war” on welfare culture but that was just another example of the spin over substance approach of this Government. No new policy initiatives were announced and no new vision of welfare provision was given. Despite promising much, the Government has delivered very little.

“In contrast, Fianna Fáil has put forward a number of effective proposals which could eliminate poverty traps and dismantle the number of disincentives to work that currently exist in our welfare system. Our proposals include lowering the restrictions relating to hours of work necessary to qualify for Family Income Supplement (FIS). We believe the provision that you must work at least 38 hours per fortnight to qualify for FIS is too high a restriction and is a disincentive to work when coming off Jobseeker’s Allowance. A lower limit could encourage increased participation in the workforce by people who currently are recipients of this scheme.

“The changes introduced by the Minister over the last two budgets in the One Parent Family Payment should be reversed. In the first instance the earnings disregard of €130 per week should be maintained and the proposal to move single parents who do not have a child under the age of 7 from lone parents allowance to Jobseeker’s Allowance should be delayed indefinitely.  The three-day rule for the payment of Jobseeker’s Benefit should also be changed. Two people working 15 hours per week, for example, would be on vastly different social welfare payments depending on whether these hours are spread over 3 or 5 days. A person working 15 hours over 5 days would receive no Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is yet another disincentive to work.

 

“Rather than just fire out hastily written statements on the subject which were a blatant attempt to distract people from the unfairness in the budget, the Taoiseach and his colleagues would be much better off engaging in the substance of this issue. 
“British Conservative Party language about ‘getting tough’ on people entitled to welfare is a very poor substitute for proper policy focus and real reform where it is needed.”