Sinn Féin Social Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that the Fine Gael/Labour Government cannot claim to have protected vulnerable people over the last three years.
Speaking in the Dail tonight, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said while there was an alternative, the government had chosen to target the most vulnerable people in our society.
“How can this government claim to have protected core social welfare rates, when in reality you cut the core Maternity Benefit payment? First you taxed it, then you cut it. The majority of Maternity Benefit recipients will now see their weekly payment cut by €32 this is a cut of €832 over the course of their six month leave. For many new mothers maternity benefit is their only income during that time.
“For those mothers who are fortunate enough to have their maternity benefit supplemented by their employers the cumulative impact of this government’s benefit cut and tax measure could see their payment shrink by up to €126. That’s a potential loss of up to €3,276 for new mothers.
“How can this government claim to have protected core social welfare rates, when in reality you cut the core Invalidity Pension rate for 65 year olds. The cut to invalidity pension means 65 year old disabled pensioners are looking at a cut of €36.80 per week or €1,914 over the year. Invalidity Pension is paid to people with the requisite contributions record who cannot work due to long term illness or disability (most will have been receiving illness benefit for the previous year). The government language in relation to the Invalidity Pension cut is that 'the rate of €230 will be discontinued and the rate of €193.50 will instead be payable' - how they can claim with a straight face that they have protected core weekly rates is beyond me!
“Child Benefit warrants separate mention. Despite the pre-election posters and promises, despite the programme for government commitment to protect the vulnerable and maintain welfare rates – you cut child benefit two budgets running. In Budget 2013 alone you dipped your hands into the pockets of families and ripped out, in the case of a family with four children €58 of child benefit each month. This was despite your earlier acknowledgment that child benefit is what keeps many families afloat, that child benefit puts food on tables and pays the energy bills.”