Social Welfare Commission would take the ‘political football out of setting social welfare rates’ – John Brady TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has today published his party’s proposals to establish a Social Welfare Commission which would 'take the annual political football out of setting social welfare rates’ and protect households from poverty.
These proposals have also been outlined in a Sinn Féin Bill introduced in the Dáil last October.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Brady said:
“Every year as the Budget approaches, conversations on the possibility of a €5 increase in the State Pension begin. In fact, this “will they-won’t they” debate has already started.
“No person who relies on social welfare support should be left hoping year on year for a €5 increase in their payment rate. This would not be the case, if the rate was adequate in the first place - this is exactly what our proposals would achieve.
“We know that numerous organisations, at the annual pre-Budget forum with Minister Doherty have put forward adequacy as a priority when it comes to setting social welfare rates. This has come up as a consistent priority at these meetings in recent years.
“Other options as to how we set rates such as linking to the Consumer Price Index will not ensure adequacy for our most vulnerable citizens.
"This can only be achieved by looking at the needs of various household types who rely on social welfare supports to examine what rate would allow them to meet an adequate standard of living.
"This work is already done for us annually by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice.
“We are proposing a Social Welfare Commission that would use this data along with all other available data and evidence as well as through engagement with organisations to make recommendations to the Minister annually, ahead of the Budget.
“This would mean that any Budget increase would be evidence based and targeted at those who need it most. It would ensure that every household who relies on social welfare support would be able to meet a decent standard of living and are protected from poverty.
“The make up of the Commission would be based on that of the Low Pay Commission and we estimate a cost of €480,000 per year.
“Eventually, this Commission would ensure that all social welfare payments are adequate to protect our most vulnerable citizens from poverty. This is the very least that any social protection system should achieve.”