FF says changes to social welfare system could eliminate ‘poverty traps’

O’Dea calls for ‘practical, fundamental reform of the welfare system’

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on social protection, Willie O’Dea says the Irish social welfare system requires “practical, fundamental reform” to eliminate ‘poverty traps’ which act as disincentives to people on social welfare returning to work.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on social protection, Willie O’Dea says the Irish social welfare system requires “practical, fundamental reform” to eliminate ‘poverty traps’ which act as disincentives to people on social welfare returning to work.

Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 15:19

FIANNA Fáil are proposing a number of changes to the social welfare system which it says would eliminate “poverty traps” which act as disincentives to people on social welfare returning to work.

The party’s spokesman on social protection, Willie O’Dea, said the Irish social welfare system required “practical, fundamental reform”.

“People literally can’t afford to go to work. They’re worse off if they go to work rather than staying at home unemployed and getting a full rate of social welfare. That’s completely unsustainable especially in a situation where you have a social welfare bill of in excess of €20 billion in a GDP the size of Ireland’s.”

In a discussion document released yesterday the party proposes:

- a reversal of changes to the one parent family payment introduced in recent budgets including the indefinite suspension of a proposal which would see single parents with children aged 7 or over moved to job seekers allowance.

- changes to the three-day rule, which allows people on job seekers benefit who work up to three days in the week to claim benefits for the days they do not work. It suggests that the current system be replaced with a new system based on earnings as opposed to the number of days worked.

- that discretion be exercised by social welfare officers in relation to the number of hours required to qualify for the Family Income Supplement (currently 38 hours per fortnight) in cases where there is a net benefit to the State.

However, the party has proposed that no cuts be made to social welfare payments in the upcoming budget.

“People who are existing on social welfare at the moment, they’re literally eking out an existence from week to week...there is a problem, of course, with the size of the social welfare bill; the best way to deal with that problem is to get more people into work and out of social welfare”.

Mr O’Dea said the party would be advancing the proposals contained in this discussion document in its budget proposals to Government.

“If those changes are not taken on board by the Government they will form part of our election proposals going forward, both into the local elections and subsequently into the general election,” he said.