The Poor can't pay. Protect the vulnerable

18 Oct 2010

A coalition of leading charities, community and voluntary groups, trade unions and academics today launched a new hard-hitting campaign which calls on all TD's to take a pledge to protect the most vulnerable in society from Budget cuts.

The "Time to Make a Commitment" campaign features two short videos which explain the terrible impact Government cuts have already had on families and people struggling on low incomes and social welfare, including young children, people that are homeless, the unemployed, those on the minimum wage, people with disabilities and older people.

The videos were sent in an email to every TD and Senator this morning by the Poor Can't Pay, highlighting the impact 2010's budget cuts have already had on the lives of many people in Ireland struggling to get by on low incomes and social welfare. The Poor Can't Pay appealed to Oireachtas members to stand up and pledge their support to protect people on the lowest incomes in Budget 2011. [smYouTube id=mt65pYE8JQg]

The campaign was launched today by, Susan McKay, Director of the National Women's Council of Ireland: "These videos are a bleak reminder of the human impact that these cuts are having on people on the lowest incomes in Ireland", she said.

"The statistics are shocking, and tell the story one way. These short films reinforce what the speakers here today have told our TD's - that people on the lowest incomes simply cannot face any more cuts. As a society we must protest about the fact that the unemployed, the homeless, older people, or parents of children already living in poverty are being asked once again to pay the economic and social cost of this recession."

Speaking at the launch, Noel Nutley, a service user of Age Action said: "People need to understand about the challenges facing older people in our society. I'm 83 and a widower. Living on your own doesn't necessarily mean you have lower costs as a pensioner. Heating bills are hugely expensive; even though there might only be one person in the house, the cost can be the same as that for a family of four.

[smYouTube id=bWBdNepbj4A]

He added: "The Government needs to make sure that older people's social welfare payments are protected in this budget. There are a lot of older people who struggle to get by on the State pension. They deserve to have all the help they need."

Susan McKay said, "The poorest people in Ireland have already paid more than their fair share. Further reductions to their incomes and cuts to vital services will cause hardship for hundreds of thousands of people. The Poor Can't Pay coalition is urging every TD to make a commitment by pledging their support for this campaign to protect the most vulnerable from further cuts."

To date the Poor Can't Pay's online campaign has already seen cross party support from politicians including T.D.'s. Fianna Fáil's Michael Moynihan, Green Party's Ciarán Cuffe, Labour's Joan Burton. Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Fine Gael's Padraic McCormack have all signed up to support the campaign. However only 14% of TDs in total have signed up to do all they can to protect those on low incomes.

Public representatives who haven't yet done so can demonstrate their commitment to protect people on low incomes by signing up to this important initiative on www.thepoorcantpay.ie.

Members of the public can lobby their local TDs. They can send a pre-written letter from www.thepoorcantpay.ie to all their local political representatives.

Ms. McKay added: "Financiers, bankers and politicians who played a big part in causing this crisis continue to lead comfortable lives. We have a State bank guarantee. We have the Croke Park agreement which protects civil servants from further income cuts. It is now time to insist that we also need guarantees for the most vulnerable."