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ESRI should distance itself from reports attacking social welfare system

12 June, 2012 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the ESRI to distance itself from news articles which attribute to it a report claiming that thousands would be better off on the dole than in a job.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said that public debate should be focusing on creating jobs and making work pay rather than being twisted to beat social welfare dependents whose morale and situation are at an all-time low.

He said:

“The claims of ex-ESRI professor Richard Tol have wrongly prompted the usual suspects to attack our social welfare system.

“The central claim of Richard Tol that engaging in work incurs extra costs will not be news to anybody. Taking up work is becoming unaffordable. It does not however follow that social welfare payments are the problem.

“I think the growing queues for food parcels are sufficient evidence that social welfare rates in Ireland do not protect from poverty and severe deprivation. Instead we need to examine the world of low paid and casual work. We need the government to respond to the fact that people in work have had their hours and pay drastically reduced.

“We need government action on childcare because currently it amounts to a second mortgage for many young couples who are struggling with their house mortgage. The debate should be focusing on creating jobs and making work pay through tax reform, in-work benefits and services such as childcare, it should not be twisted to beat a people whose morale and situation are at an all-time low.

“In addition to this I would question many of the figures quoted. Some seem overstated, others understated and the cost of actively seeking work is ignored. The claims made in the media articles are not taken from an ESRI report as was stated. Rather they are from a working paper which has not been subject to peer review either internally or externally.

“As I understand it from contacts between my office and the ESRI they do not in fact stand over the figures, two of the paper’s authors no longer work for the ESRI and should the paper be progressed to a full report further work would be necessary and the figures would change.

“I would now call on the ESRI to publicly distance themselves from these incendiary claims which are being used to bash social welfare recipients and which have wrongly been attributed to the institute as official findings.”


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