O'Dea urges Burton to resist social welfare cuts


MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton has been urged by her Fianna Fáil counterpart to resist cuts in social welfare rates and to give refundable tax credits to low-paid workers.

Willie O’Dea said he was proposing a budgetary plan that would “widen the gap between the lowest paid workers and those on social welfare, thus making it more attractive to work”.

Responding to the European Commission’s recent warning to the Government to eliminate poverty traps and broaden the tax base, Mr O’Dea said Ms Burton should be “proactive” in reforming the welfare system.

“We need to eliminate the poverty trap in Ireland,” Mr O’Dea said. “There are two approaches. The first is to squeeze the social welfare payments; the second option is to help the working poor, which in these circumstances is the only viable option.”

The Limerick City TD said he believed the vast majority of those on social welfare were below the poverty line and their situation would get progressively worse if benefits were reduced.

Mr O’Dea said his proposal would involve a €150 million investment but it would represent a “huge stimulus” for those in the lower income bracket.