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150% increase in Defence Force members needing FIS payment – Buckley

11 May, 2017 - by Pat Buckley TD


Sinn Féin TD for East Cork Pat Buckley has described the increasing difficult financial situation faced by many in the Defence Forces as shameful. He was responding to information from the Department of Social Protection which revealed the number of defence force families receiving FIS payments had more than doubled in just three years.

Deputy Buckley said:

“Today, families of Defence Force members have protested at Barracks across the state to highlight the increasing difficulty they are having in affording to pay the bills due to low wages.

“Members of the Defence Forces serve the state with great dedication and have been the cause for great pride and celebration for the country in their excellent record overseas in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts. However, they are also workers without any means to fight for better pay and conditions in the way other workers do having no ability to strike to access the labour court.

“At present, a new member earns just €200 a week, increasing to €350 a week in their second year. The wages do not increase much more after that for ordinary soldiers.

“It is impossible in the long term for a person to feed, clothe, and house a family on such low wages. That is why families have increasingly sought further assistance from the state and this can be seen in the number in receipt of Family Income Supplement. In just three years, the numbers have more than doubled from 49 in 2013 to 124 in 2016.

“We cannot continue to treat these people in this way. It is an insult to their hard work and dedication.” 

Note: Please see below the PQ in question

Question No:   299 Ref No: 21988-17

To the Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Social Protection the numbers of Defence Forces personnel that received family income supplement in each of the years 2013 to 2016 and to date in 2017.

- Pat Buckley.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 9th May, 2017.

R E P L Y

Minister for Social Protection (Leo Varadkar T.D):

The Family Income Supplement (FIS) is an in-work support, which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children.  FIS is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependants and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment.  There are currently over 57,000 families with almost 127,000 children in receipt of FIS.  The estimated spend on FIS this year is approximately €422 million.

To qualify for FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment, which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount, which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.
According to FIS data as of week ending Fri 6 May 2017 there are currently 117 customers in receipt of FIS recorded under the occupational code covering members of the defence forces.  

The figures for families in receipt of FIS for previous years as requested by the Deputy are as follows:

Ø 2013 49
Ø 2014 94
Ø 2015 127
Ø 2016 124

For the purposes of consistency it is important to note that the figures above are based on the amount of families in receipt of FIS at week 52 of the relevant year, as such the figures may go up or down depending on the week in the year. 

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