Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says deducting the property tax at source from social welfare payments will cause unnecessary stress and concern for people who are already struggling to cope in the recession.

Deputy O’Dea was speaking after weekend reports suggested that the new Government Property Tax could be deducted from social welfare payments.

Deputy O’Dea commented: “This move would break the Government’s promise not to reduce core social welfare payments. Last year’s budget was described by the ESRI as the most regressive since 2008 and they don’t seem to have learned their lesson with this attempt to further penalise the less well off.

“Last week, Fianna Fáil launched our alternative budget proposals, which includes reaching the Government’s tax target for next year without introducing a property tax. Over one quarter of all mortgages are in some form of distress and families just cannot afford to pay it.

“We must remember that people on social welfare have very little disposable income at the end of the week once their various bills have been paid. Research today suggested that one in three people are missing meals because they are struggling to pay their bills. Now the Government plans to further reduce people’s income by placing the property tax burden on them. This is badly thought out and regressive in the extreme.

“I would urge the relevant Minsters to rethink this strategy and consider the huge impact that deducting the property tax from social welfare payments would have on those who can least afford it.”