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Government paying poverty wages – Ó Snodaigh

24 February, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused the Government of paying ‘poverty wages’ to public servants after it was revealed today that 11% of people on Family Income Supplement are public sector workers.

He said the revelation makes a nonsense of the arguments of those advocating further attacks on the wages an income of public sector workers.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“In response to a parliamentary question which I tabled to Minister Hanafin it was revealed that 11% of those people in receipt of the Family Income Supplement are public sector workers.

“Family Income Supplement is a tightly means-tested payment. It is only given to those whose income is clearly insufficient to meet their families needs. The number of claims has increased by 22% since 2007.

“11% of those in receipt of weekly Family Income Supplement are now public servants and this number is increasing in the wake of the government assault on public service pay. This government are knowingly paying almost 3,000 hard working public sector employees below what is necessary to care for their families. They are paying poverty wages.

“Today’s revelation makes a nonsense of the arguments of those advocating further attacks on the wages an income of public sector workers.”


Editor’s note: PQ to Social and Family Affairs follows along with response from Minister Hanafin.

Question No: 121 Ref No: 8675/10

To ask the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will make a statement on the increase in the numbers of persons claiming family income supplement; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that many public servants, who have experienced a reduction in pay due to the recent Budget cuts, have been put in a position where their income is now so low they become eligible for family income supplement

- Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 23rd February, 2010.

The Family Income Supplement (FIS) is designed to provide support for people with families who are on low earnings, regardless of their occupation. Besides providing valuable financial support to such families, FIS preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where families might be only marginally better off than if they were claiming other social welfare payments.
FIS is calculated on the basis of 60% of the difference between the income limit for the family size and the net income of the person(s) raising the child (ren). Net income, for FIS purposes, comprises total family income less tax, employee PRSI, health contribution, income levy, and superannuation contribution. The public service pension levy, where this is payable, is also deductible from income when calculating net income for the purposes of eligibility to FIS.
In 2009, the Department received 46,542 new and renewal FIS claims compared to 42,940 in 2008 and 37,861 in 2007 - an increase of over 8% on 2008 and over 22% on 2007.
There are currently some 26,081 people in receipt of a weekly FIS payment of which 11% are public servants. The Department has received an increased number of applications for FIS from public servants since the beginning of this year, compared to 2009. However, it is difficult to quantify at present what the increase in the overall number of public servants in receipt of FIS will be, resulting from this increase in applications.
The actual numbers of public servants becoming eligible for FIS in future will be influenced by several factors. These factors include increased remuneration for public sector workers through annual increments, increases or reductions in the number of qualified children and any changes in working hours/patterns due to work sharing/family friendly arrangements.

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