Tánaiste should confirm Budget welfare increases of €15 per week but summer bonus needed now
- Index linking would mean payment increases of at least €15 a week
- Labour calls for summer bonus payment for social welfare recipients
Responding to reports today of Fine Gael Budget requests, Labour Social Protection spokesperson Seán Sherlock called on the Tánaiste to confirm that the budget will include index linked social welfare increases of at least €15 a week, and urged immediate financial support for those under pressure now through a summer social welfare bonus to tackle the cost of living crisis.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“In the midst of a cost of living crisis people can’t afford the usual Budget kite flying. Today it is reported in the Irish Independent that the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar will put pressure on the government for index linked tax and social welfare measures but the Budget is still 5 months away. Those on fixed incomes need support now, and can’t wait until October.
“Labour has called for a summer social welfare bonus payment. A once off double payment in social welfare, like that at Christmas, would assist those most in need to meet the demands of increased costs in groceries and other essentials. For those at work, there must also be pay rises and the introduction of a living wage.
“Working age payments would need to rise by at least €15 if they are to be linked to inflation. The Tánaiste shouldn’t play games with people’s incomes or lead them up the garden path. Fine Gael should confirm now that social welfare payments will rise by a minimum of €15 a week in October. That is what is needed for Jobseekers Allowance of €208 to keep pace with an inflation rate of between 7 and 8 per cent.
“Rising prices for food, energy, housing and essential household items is massively squeezing those on fixed incomes. In a country as wealthy as Ireland no family should go hungry.
“There is a pressing need to bring the Budget forward, and for those at work, Labour has been clear that Ireland needs a pay rise not tax cuts, but we’ve also said that those on social welfare payments need extra support.
“Last October we called for a minimum of a €7.50 increase in weekly rates just to keep pace with inflation at that time and progress towards a minimum standard of living. What was delivered wasn’t enough to meet growing costs.
“That’s why what is needed now to support households is a once off double payment – like the Christmas social welfare bonus, a summer bonus would help with food prices soaring. This would cost approximately €300 million.
“With many families now really struggling, I am also concerned at the lack of access to Community Welfare officers, and the difficulty those who encounter emergency financial difficulties have in securing exceptional needs payments and urgent needs payments through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.”