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Minister for Social Protection accepts Sinn Féin is right

6 June, 2013 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking from Leinster House today, Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh described changes announced by Minister Joan Burton in relation to rent supplement as an admission that Sinn Féin’s charge that previous changes to Rent Allowance thresholds would leave family homes vulnerable, was correct.
The Sinn Féin social protection spokesperson said:
“I have had frequent discussions with the Minister since last year about this and called on Joan Burton to be realistic about the rents being sought for private dwellings in Dublin.
“The unrealistic rent allowance thresholds being imposed by her department have caused a huge level of stress among families dependent on rent allowance to keep a roof over their heads. It also encouraged the illegal practice of under-the-counter top-up cash payments to landlords.
“The solution to the huge rent allowance bill for the taxpayer is to acquire more social housing, whether to build, purchase or lease them. This can be cost effective in many ways; the annual rent allowance bill would be addressed; it would increase stability in people’s lives; and it would help break the poverty trap which acts as a deterrent to some people returning to work as they fear they would lose their rent allowance.
“The Minister has also today acknowledged that it was wrong to “arbitrarily take €450 million out of the economy” when speaking about demands to further cut the social welfare budget. I have reminded the minister, at each budget since she took office, that her cuts to social welfare severely affected not only the distressed social welfare recipient but also local economies in which people live. It has a national effect in reducing demand and costing jobs, thus adding more people to the dole queues.
“I am calling on the minister, not only to commit to not imposing the €450m cut to social welfare budget, but to reverse many of her cuts, thus acting as a stimulus package for local economies and the national economy as Sinn Féin had proposed in our recent pre-budget submissions.
“I welcome the Minister’s new-found understanding of the effects of her budget cuts, but I and others will watch to see if this is just more Labour spin, like their election promises. There is a lot of bluster, but at the end of the day will she dance to Fine Gael’s tune?”

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