October 10, 2023
Social welfare budget fails to adequately support workers and families amidst cost-of-living crisis – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has said that Budget 2024 has failed to make the necessary permanent increases to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable in our society – including children, carers, pensioners and people with disabilities.

The Sinn Féin Alternative Budget proposed a €1.7bn additional investment in permanent expenditure increases, while the Government has allocated just €1.1bn.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“Like much of Budget 2024, across all departments, the social welfare budget has focused on the short term and failed to deliver long term.

“One-off payments are all well and good but people need Government to make a lasting difference for them and that is what Sinn Féin proposed to do.

“People on Disabilities and Carers deserved better from the Social Protection Budget. We know that people with disabilities are at much higher risk of poverty, yet there was no recognition of the increased cost of disability – Sinn Féin proposed a €20 increase instead of €12 – nothing on the long overdue Carers Pension, and no increase in the Carers Support Grant.

“The cost of raising a child is skyrocketing but the Government has ignored that and left many families at risk of poverty. The qualified child payment will be increased by only €4 per week, far below what the Children Rights Alliance and many other organisations have said was the minimum required. Sinn Féin would have increased by €5 for under-12s and by €10 for over-12s.

“In addition, there is no increase for the core rate of child benefit. It is still below the 2008 rate, which was cut by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments, and no increase has been made since 2016. Families are under savage pressure, and the core rate needed to be increased.

“We welcome the extension of child benefit to 18-year-olds in further education, but more was needed.

“Sinn Féin would have gone much further in tackling child poverty, by removing the cliff edge that exists when lone parents have to come off One Parent Family payment at seven, and bring it back to 12, and addressing the cliff edge for those on jobseekers transitional by raising the maximum age to 15.

“Finally, given energy costs are still crippling families, it is unacceptable that the core rate of fuel allowance has not increased at all. Sinn Féin would have increased this by €5 and ensured that families on low incomes would be eligible by extending to working family payment recipients. It is incomprehensible that these low-income working families are still excluded.

“In Sinn Féin’s alternative budget, we allocated €1.6bn to increase core weekly payments for pensioners, carers, people with disabilities and others who depend on social welfare for a wide range of reasons. The government has allocated almost €1.1bn – half a billion less.

“Sinn Féin has repeatedly put forward costed and sector-backed proposals to Government, which would tackle the cost-of-living crisis, and ease the pressures workers and families are facing.

“The Government has failed to deliver the response required to alleviate this cost-of-living crisis despite the ever-growing threat of energy poverty and household debt looming for so many.”

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