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Call for Dáil debate on Social Protection reports

25 November, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Responding to the launch today of three major reports by the Minister for Social Protection, Sinn Féin Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said he fears the government will use the reforms as cover for cuts and called for a Dáil debate next week on their contents.

He said, “Sinn Féin supports the simplification of the welfare system in the interests of better public understanding of entitlements and reduced administration costs. However the government’s motivation is to make all social welfare payments, including disability and lone parent payments, conditional on labour market activation. And now, at the height of an unemployment crisis, is the worst possible time to do that.

“Ireland was recently criticised by the OECD for the grossly inadequate nature of our labour market activation supports. At a time when the department's resources are incapable of meeting the activation needs of the 450,000 people who are already on the live register why would you force two more sizeable groups into the queue?

“I fear that the government plan to use reforms such as a single working age payment and new child income support model as cover for cuts to existing payments. The upcoming budget will selectively implement the reports’ recommendations and it will not result in larger numbers moving into employment it will simply add to the fears and difficulties of lone parents and people with disabilities.

I welcome the spirit of the recommendation from the Review of Disability Allowance that the department should focus on and support the capacity of people with disabilities rather than their incapacity but I fear this may be aspirational only and is unlikely to be given effect by this government. In addition I reject the proposal to raise the age for Disability Allowance from 16 to 18 years because even allowing for an extension of Domiciliary Care Allowance this would result in these households taking a cut of approximately €500 per month.

“I am calling on the government to make time for a debate on the three reports next week because although this government will not have a chance to act on most of what’s contained in them key aspects risk being implemented in the Budget or signed up to in an IMF deal.” ENDS

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