Boosting social welfare payments in this year’s budget could mean unemployed people lose income if they go back to work, Fine Gael’s leader in the Seanad, Regina Doherty, has said.
Last month inflation was at 9% and the cabinet is considering boosting payments by €15 to help those on social welfare to cope with the soaring cost of living.
Claire Kerrane, Sinn Féin’s Social Protection spokesperson, gave the plans a cautious endorsement; telling The Hard Shoulder that there needs to be a “significant increase, it does need to be a double digit figure and €15 just about keeps up with inflation for those social welfare weekly payments.”
Senator Doherty predicted that there would be a “significant increase in the social welfare budget this year”, while cautioning that the Government needs to make sure that work still pays.
“I definitely know that there are people who are telling us - and this isn’t anecdotal - there are people who are telling us that it doesn’t pay them to go and work because they would lose so much of what they are already on,” she said.
“That should never be the case. Absolutely going to work should always pay you better than living off the interim measures that the state gives you while you’re not working.
“There should never be a case where going to work actually costs somebody money - and we’re getting very, very close to that right now.”
Ms Kerrane countered that the existence of such people was a failing of the Government:
“In that case the Department of Social Protection needs to pull their socks up,” she said.
“The rules are clear; if you’re receiving job seekers’ payments you’re obliged to seek work and as I’ve said, there have been instances where people are referred to job activation, they don’t take it up and their payments are reduced or in some cases revoked.”
Main image: Social Welfare Office. Picture by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland