Snip, Snip, Wallop!
17 Jul 2009
Amongst the many recommendations 'An Bord Snip Nua' makes to Government are: a 5% cut in Social Welfare rates; further reductions in Rent Supplement; further gradation by age to Jobseekers Allowance; and an end to 'double payments'.
"What is so striking about the recommendations," noted John Stewart, Co-ordinator with the INOU, "is how much the less well off in Irish society are being asked to pay for the failings of the Celtic Tiger."
Many welfare recipients have seen their cost of living rise over the past year, not fall as so many economic commentators keep asserting. Both in the October and the April Budgets changes were made to Rent Supplement. "As a result of these changes most welfare recipients in receipt of this payment have seen their rental costs increase between €15 and €20 per week," said Bríd O'Brien, Head of Policy and Media with the INOU. "It is vitally important that the Government maintain existing social welfare rates otherwise people will find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet," she concluded.
In April's Budget Jobseekers Allowance levels were cut for 18 and 19 years olds from €204.30 pw to €100 pw. In An Bord Snip Nua's report they recommend that 20 to 24 year olds get a reduced rate of €150 pw. "It strikes us as extraordinary that seven years after you are old enough to vote, you will only then be seen as old enough to get a full 'adult' welfare payment," said John.
Given the tightening labour market and the difficulties many marginalised groups experienced in accessing employment during the Celtic Tiger years, the INOU has called for the maintenance of the focus of Community Employment (CE) on disadvantage. The call in this report to abolish what they call 'double payments', will have a negative impact on the participation rates of lone parents and disabled people on CE. The current arrangement, that allows lone parents and disabled people to maintain a portion of their welfare payment, supports their involvement by covering additional participation costs like childcare and transport.
Given how interlinked employment status and educational attainment are, the INOU is astonished at the range of calls in this report to further cut and so undermine the educational system. These calls are even more extraordinary given the Government's state aim to develop a 'Smart economy'. "Without the proper investment at all levels of the education and training systems it will not be possible to develop such an economy and even less likely for unemployed people and others to secure work in it," finished Bríd.
For further information contact:
John Stewart, INOU Co-ordinator: (01) 856 0088 or 086 160 2222
Bríd O'Brien, INOU Head of Policy and Media: (01) 856 0088 or 086 608 9641