Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Social Protection Spokesperson, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that the entire social protection system must re-focus itself on providing opportunities rather than trapping many.

“Too many of the schemes provided by the Department are overly bureaucratic and burdensome.”

“A core objective of every scheme that offered by the Department those who are unemployed must be to move people into further education, training and ultimately paid employment.

“If this is not evidently the case, then proper social policy is not being implemented,” said Senator Ardagh.

“Regrettably, many of the current schemes provided do not operate in such a way. The Back to Education Allowance scheme is one appropriate example that should empower those that have never had the chance to attend higher education. However, the barriers that are put in front of people are wholly unethical.

“Recently, lone-parent applicants have been refused access to this scheme because their children are aged seven or older. This clause is nonsensical and does not meet the primary objective of guiding people towards paid employment. It is crucial that we make work pay, and ensure that those in receipt of social protection feel the full benefit of returning to work.~

“For far too many, the pressure of maintaining family income levels forces many to resist taking on employment or returning to education. The welfare system must address this view and ensure that those transitioning from welfare to paid-employment or education are supported through a scheme such as sliding payments.

“The guidelines, and regulations, surrounding social protection schemes must adapt to and reflect the reality of life for people. Not to mention, be flexible enough to fulfil the moral objective of good social policy,” concluded the Fianna Fáil Senator.