Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has called on the Government to clarify its social welfare policy and allay fears that the state pension or social welfare payments will be cut in December’s budget.
The call comes after reports that the IMF is suggesting cuts to the old age pension, child welfare payments, and social welfare payments.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “The IMF proposal to reduce Contributory Pensions by €11 will cause great anxiety among the elderly up and down the country. Michael Noonan was very quick to reassure householders that the IMF recommendation on property tax would not be implemented and now I’m calling on the Labour Party who are meeting today to reassure pensioners that they will not be targeted.
“There are a great many elderly people living below the poverty line and fuel poverty amongst the elderly is causing over 2,000 premature deaths each year. Traditionally the gap between the Contributory and Non-Contributory Pension was much larger, but Fianna Fáil closed the gap by increasing the Non-Contributory Pension. The gap now is between people who have paid a minimum amount of contributions and those who have not. I believe that those who have contributed are entitled to recognition.
“The Irish people have lived with austerity and economic hardship for the past 5 years, but their willingness to continue to do so should not be taken for granted. Up until the last budget, the response to the crisis was progressive, with those who could pay most being asked to pay most. Under this Government, that approach was abandoned in favour of targeting some of the most vulnerable sections of society. We saw this as recently as last week when Minister James Reilly proposed cuts to home care packages and PAs for the disabled. The approach of this Government has made many vulnerable people, including the elderly, very nervous about what is in store.
“The Labour Party has an opportunity today to clarify the situation, put their minds at rest and confirm that the suggestions of the IMF will be rejected.”