Budget cuts to welfare would be 'immoral'


THE SOCIETY of St Vincent de Paul may not be able to help all those coming to it in future months, its national vice-president has warned.

John Monaghan, speaking at the publication of the society’s pre-Budget submission yesterday, said the increasing volume of calls for help, combined with a projected fall in funds, could lead to “intolerable pressure”, particularly in the run-up to Christmas. Any cut to social welfare payments in December’s budget would be “immoral”. “Based on feedback from conferences around the country, there is deep concern the Christmas bonus for welfare recipients is not going to be reinstated.

“That is a loss of about €200 that an individual got sometime in the first week of December. It was relied on for the heating and food at the coldest time of the year. If, and it looks likely, it is not reinstated in the Budget, our members are clear – people are going to start descending on us in big numbers or go to moneylenders.”

The charity’s main fundraising drive, which begins later this month, was likely to raise less than recent years, he said.

Calls for assistance across the State were up 30 per cent this year. In Dublin, 60 per cent of the calls were from households with children. The most frequent requests were for help with buying food, paying utility bills and with meeting education costs.

“Over 25 per cent of calls to the Dublin conference are from first-time callers. These are the realities our friends the economists and in the media might like to think about when they talk about across-the-board cuts.”

“There is no moral or economic justification for a cut in social welfare or pension payments,” he said. Among the calls the society is making are protection for low-income families from cuts to child benefit, maintenance of the fuel and back-to-school clothing allowances, and a halt to cuts for special needs teachers at primary level.