Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has launched a policy document entitled ‘Eliminating Social Welfare Poverty Traps’, which aims to address anomalies in the social welfare system that can lead to people being better off receiving welfare payments than taking up employment.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “There needs to be immediate reform of the social welfare system in Ireland to encourage people to get back into the workforce.
“The benefits of encouraging more people back into the workforce will be significant. It will immediately relieve pressure on the social welfare budget. Fianna Fáil proposes a number of simple measures that would be relatively cost-free and would eliminate the anomalies in the social welfare system.
“We propose that the changes to the One Parent Family Allowance, introduced by Minister Joan Burton over the last 2 budgets, should be reversed. Her changes mean that the incentive to work is removed and people are discouraged from returning to employment.
“There also needs to be changes made to Family Income Supplement (FIS). The provision that you must work at least 38 hours per fortnight to qualify for FIS is too high a restriction and it is a disincentive to work when coming off jobseekers allowance.
“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 benefit. This is yet another disincentive to work.
“Irish people want to work. It is untrue to say that unemployed people do not want to work. However, in certain situations people cannot afford to work and are better off on welfare. This is not a choice they like making but often they are left without any option.
“Minister Joan Burton has time after time promised to reform the social welfare system. We have yet to see any real reforms by a Minister that seems to be caught up in her own spin. These simple measures have the potential to make a huge difference to the social welfare system and I would urge her to adopt these immediately.”