Budget 2011 a hostile act against families on social welfare
Responding to Budget 2011 Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh deemed the Budget a hostile act against families on social welfare.
Condemning the cuts to job seeker, disability and carer social welfare rates, he said:
“The Finance Minister pointed to 'low inflation' as a justification for cutting the social welfare rates of job seekers, carers, lone parents and people with disabilities by 4% but prices for many essential goods and services such as health, education, transport and energy costs have all increased.
“The basic welfare rate is being cut by €416 per annum. A couple dependent on social welfare will be down €691. Once child benefit cuts are added an unemployed family with three children will be down over €1,000. This Budget is a hostile act against the growing number of families who are dependent on social welfare.
“A survey conducted by Sinn Féin of 278 social welfare recipients last week month clearly demonstrated that families on social welfare simply cannot afford to take this hit. On the current welfare rates almost 90% of those surveyed will go without something essential this Christmas be that food, home heating fuel or Christmas presents. Respondents also confirmed that more than half of welfare recipients may borrow money to see themselves through Christmas. The only stimulus in this budget is for loan sharks and money lenders.”
Dismissing the fuel allowance increase announced in the Budget as too little too late, he said
“This additional €40 is to go only to households that are in receipt of the fuel allowance. But the number of households experiencing fuel poverty far exceeds the number who qualify for the allowance. Eligibility for the fuel allowance is narrowly restricted. It is available only to those on long term social welfare payments. It is not available to many social welfare recipients or to the working poor. Fuel allowance is not available to those on jobseekers benefit or to those on jobs seekers allowance for less than 15 months.
“The fuel allowance scheme itself should be expanded and money raised by the Carbon Tax should be ring-fenced to address fuel poverty.
“People have lost their jobs, they are sitting at home tonight unemployed and in cold houses. Their fuel bills have increased as a result of green party and government policy and this budget does nothing to assist them. Instead they will struggle even more and face disconnections as the 4 % cut to their jobseeker payments will make their heating bills even more insurmountable.” ENDS