Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has raised concern that the measures outlined in Budget 2022 will not be enough to support families and workers with the rising cost of living.
This comes as the government announce €558m additional spending for Social Protection in Budget 2022. This represents just over half of the €1bn additional allocations for Social Protection in Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget.
Speaking following the Budget announcement today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“The government claim to be committed to ensuring households are supported with the rising cost of living, but we are seeing nothing new beyond the annual fiver here and there.
“In this year’s Budget there was a real opportunity to show the lessons learned following the effects of the pandemic. Instead, the government want to maintain the status quo with social welfare rates set below the poverty line.
“They continue to offer scraps off the table rather than delivering the fundamental change our Social Protection system desperately needs.
“A €5 increase for core payments for Lone Parents, Jobseekers and Carers is not enough and maintain these rates well below the poverty line. Rates for young Jobseekers will be raised to just €117.50 a week, which is inadequate and discriminatory.
“Eligibility for the Fuel Allowance has barely been expanded in the Budget and will only benefit a small number of households.
“There is no sign of a desperately-needed discretionary fund to support households locked out of the Fuel Allowance who are struggling with utility costs this winter. There are many low income workers who see no support.
“Carer’s Allowance income thresholds have finally been raised after 13 years with no increase, but this does not go far enough. For too long Carers have not received the supports they need and deserve, and there is no sign of an increase to the Carer’s Support Grant or the introduction of a Long-Term Carer’s Pension as we had proposed.
“Increases should not be dictated by how much the Government has to spend on a given year, but based on rates benchmarked against the cost of living. The uncertainty families and workers face each year, is just not good enough.
“Our social welfare system is in desperate need of reform and revitalisation, to provide adequate supports when people need it. The Social Protection allocations announced in today’s Budget quite simply won’t go far enough to protect families and workers.
“We know people are calling out for change. A Sinn Féin government would build a better system of Social Protection to support the lives of workers, families, and households.”