Responding to a report from the Department of Social Protection's Citizens Information Board that welfare is stopping people taking up jobs, Sinn Féin spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said the solution is to tackle the poverty traps not cut welfare.
"This report should be interpreted cautiously. It's from an agency inside the minister's own department and it could give her the excuse she is looking for to cut social welfare payments.
“The reality is that only a tiny minority of people are better off on welfare. The vast majority are receiving payments that are not even adequate for a decent standard of living. Comprehensive research by the ESRI found that more than 70% of those receiving welfare would, in fact, be significantly better off in work and close to 95% would gain financially from employment.
“The structure of the rent supplement scheme is indeed a problem. Rent supplement is lost in its entirety if full-time work is taken up. However 88% of those on unemployment payments do not even receive it.
“So what is required is a targeted response to that scheme not general social welfare cuts affecting all recipients. Rather than fix the rent supplement scheme, last year the minister cut jobseekers benefit, fuel and back to school allowances. “The danger is she will do the same again this year and cut social welfare generally rather than tackling the specific identified poverty traps.
“For the minority who are facing a disincentive to work, the solution lies in social housing, more affordable childcare and a more flexible social welfare systems to make taking a job a realistic financial option. None of this will be remedied by more social welfare cuts."