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Ó Snodaigh accuses cabinet of lies about cuts to social welfare rates

8 December, 2011

Speaking on the Social Welfare Bill, today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD accused cabinet ministers of lying when they claimed they had not cut social welfare rates.

He pointed to a litany of broken pre-election and programme for government promises and argued that had alternative choices been made the cuts would not be necessary.

Pre-election the Labour Party promised to protect those on low incomes from further cuts. Your party’s candidates across the state proclaimed child benefit a red line issue and social welfare rates sacrosanct. You secured your election on the back of those promises
Your hands are not tied. This is your Bill, your programme of cuts, that you have chosen to make – despite your promises.

In our costed pre-budget submission my party detailed a range of alternative cost-saving and tax-raising proposals from which you could have chosen. Sinn Féin’s alternative budget would have protected those on low and middle incomes, stimulated the economy and created jobs while making an equivalent total adjustment.

When you proposed the cuts to Disability Allowance you made an inexcusable decision to target young people with disabilities for severe cuts, in doing so you heartlessly scared thousands of families, you need to press stop and not pause on these cuts and you need to delete the provisions from the Bill in their entirety.

The vital role that child benefit plays in reducing child poverty cannot be overstated and because it is spent locally it acts as a vital economic stimulus protecting jobs. Both of these arguments were championed by the Labour Party pre-election. Despite the clear and categoric promises that Labour Party candidates made to the electorate in your Bill today you are cutting the child benefit paid to almost a quarter of all families. Even at this the eleventh hour I implore you to reconsider this cut.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party are hammering lone parents and their children with this budget and this Bill. Between the harsh changes to the earnings disregard, the withdrawal of concurrent payments and the lowering of the age of the youngest child to 7 – this bill will force thousands into long term welfare dependency. These cuts will further impoverish lone parents and their children.”

Aengus also spoke out against a range of other cuts around which there will be no debate and no vote because they do not require legislation including the cuts to fuel allowance, back to school allowance and CE scheme budgets.

“By making all of these cuts to social protection the Minister is sucking €811 million directly out of local economies. Social Protection payments are not saved or invested overseas, they are spent locally.

“This budget targets the most vulnerable and copper fastens the recession.”

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