Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.49 14 Oct 2020


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The head of Social Justice Ireland has welcomed some measures in Budget 2021, but says others will leave 'the poorest in Irish society behind'.

As part of measures announced on Tuesday, social welfare rates are to be maintained in 2021.

While there is to be an increase in the Living Alone Allowance of €5 to €19, and the Fuel Allowance is going up by €3.50 a week to €28.

Children's Benefit is also increasing by €5 for over-12s and €2 for under-12s

And there is also an increase in the Carers Support Grant by €150 to €1,850 a year.

While a Christmas bonus is to be paid to those on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and other welfare if they have been on that for four months, instead of usual 15 months.

Dr Sean Healy, CEO of Social Justice Ireland, told Breakfast Briefing those who are worst well-off got very little.

"The budget leaves the poorest in Irish society behind, despite Government's own rhetoric.

"Despite the fact that we had huge levels of investment in the budget, the Government decided not to increase core social welfare rates.

"And it's important to understand that that means that the gap between the poor and the better-off will widen in 2021, and inequality will increase just as it has done in 2020 because they made the same decisions in the last budget".

"It's important for people listening to realise that when you're calculating people's incomes in 2021 it isn't just the budget - there's also the issue that people with jobs are likely to see their incomes increase because their take-home pay will not increase hugely, but a little.

"The Department of Finance itself estimates that the pay per employee rose by 2.9% average in 2020, and will go up another 1.3% in 2021".

'Poverty is going to rise'

"An awful lot of people on core welfare rates have no other way of increasing their income.

"We're basically saying that poverty is going to rise in the coming year."

But he added: "It's important to recognise that we also say these other initiatives by Government are welcome.

"The Living Alone Allowance and Fuel Allowance and so on - these are important and need to be done - but a great many people on welfare core rates do not benefit from these at all".

Dr Healy says it is those people who are most at risk.

"The people most at risk, without a shadow of a doubt, are the people who are depending on core social welfare rates.

"We have situation now where the gap between them and the rest of society is widening as a result of decisions made by Government."

"A great amount of what the Government did was welcome... but at its core, there are tens of thousands of people who are depending on welfare because welfare is the only source of income that they had.

"Those people for a second year in a row will see the value of their money decease in the year".

He added that the poorest people will also face an additional increase in the cost of food as a result of Brexit, while the carbon tax will drive up public transport charges.

"We're in favour of the carbon tax increase, and we're glad the way they did it yesterday, but the problem is they didn't compensate the poorest for the decision".

Main image: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe (right) and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath pictured at a press conference in Government Buildings, Dublin for Budget 2021. Picture by: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

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Breakfast Briefing Budget 2021 Core Social Welfare Rates Dr Sean Healy Fuel Allowance Living Alone Allowance Social Justice Ireland Social Welfare

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