Working mothers are set to lose an average of around €3,300 during their maternity leave as a result of cuts introduced in the budgets for this year and next.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea has accused the Government of engaging in a targeted attack on working mothers. He highlighted the fact that €70 million has been taken from maternity benefit in the last two budgets, through a new tax on the benefit this year and a cut in weekly payments next year.
Deputy O’Dea said, “Last year the Finance Minister Michael Noonan decided for the first time in history that maternity benefit was to be taxed at the marginal rate. As a result of the cut which kicked in in July, an estimated 46,000 women will lose up to €2,700 or €450 per month during their 26 weeks maternity leave.
“As if this drastic cut wasn’t enough, the Government has gone back to working mothers again in Budget 2014 for more cuts. The so-called ‘standardisation’ of maternity benefit to €230 is in fact cut of €32 a week for over 90% of mothers, who are on the higher rate of benefit.
“This is yet another major blow to working women and young families. It’s a highly retrograde step, particularly coming on the heels of recommendation from the expert group on Early Years Strategy that maternity leave should be increased from 6 months to a year. The Government is going in the complete opposite direction by significantly reducing supports for pregnant women and young mothers, and making it more difficult for them to take this important time out of the workplace.
“My colleagues and I are strongly opposed to these successive maternity cuts. It is wrong to target young mothers in this way. Despite the fact that the Social Welfare Bill has passed through the Dáil today, there is still time for the Government to reconsider this additional cut before it kicks in in January.”