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Allocation to Social Welfare Department fails children, working poor and pensioners – Morgan

12 December, 2007


Sinn Féin Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD, speaking during a debate on the Social Welfare Bill 2007 in the Dáil today, said the allocation to the Department of Social and Family Affairs has been distributed with little or no imagination, with no foresight and with no tangible results. Deputy Morgan said the Government has failed children, the working poor and the living standards of pensioners.

He said, "Somebody once said that a society can be judged by how it treats its weakest. I accept that it is difficult for a Government, in a period of slowing economic growth, to budget a state's finances. But I believe, that it is at times like these, that a Government's commitment to its most vulnerable is tested. Last week, sadly, this Government was found wanting.

"The allocation to the Department of Social and Family Affairs has been distributed with little or no imagination, with no foresight and with no tangible results.

"This Bill does nothing for children. The Early Childcare Supplement does not solve the childcare problem, even after you've flung another €100 a year at it. The failure to increase maternity leave and to introduce paid paternity leave, shows how little this Government is committed to solving the childcare problem.

"This Bill fails to ease the burden of the working poor. Almost a third of all households at risk of poverty are headed by a person with a job. The minimum increase in the FIS income threshold is a prime example of how little concern the Government holds for this group.

"It fails to improve the living standards of pensioners. The Government lauds itself on the fact that it is on track to increase the pension to €300 by 2012. With the average industrial wage currently between €570 and €670 a week, how much value does this Government think €300 will hold in 2012? Pensions should have been increased by at least €20 this year.

"Sinn Féin has submitted amendments to this Bill that call on the Minister to review a number of payments and the method by which they are paid. We will support this Bill, purely on the basis that, any increase in welfare has to be welcomed, but we do so stating clearly that we want Minister Cullen to get on with the job he is paid handsomely to do, and make our social welfare system work. Don't let next year's budget be another in a long list of paltry handouts that are actually insults." ENDS

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