Welfare worries | 

People on the dole could lose income by going back to work, Senator claims

The cabinet is considering increasing payments by €15 to help those on social welfare to cope with the soaring cost of living


Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Unemployed people could lose income by going back to work if social welfare payments are boosted in this year’s budget, it has been claimed.

The cabinet is considering increasing payments by €15 to help those on social welfare to cope with the soaring cost of living.

With inflation running at nine per cent last month, there have been calls for a "substantial increase" in social welfare payments.

It prompted the Green Party's Spokesperson for Social Protection, Marc Ó Cathasaigh to call for more targeted measures to help people including one parent families and people living alone who are most at risk of poverty.

Claire Kerrane, Sinn Féin’s Social Protection spokesperson also told The Hard Shoulder that there needs to be a “significant increase” and that €15 “just about keeps up with inflation for those social welfare weekly payments”.

However, Fine Gael’s leader in the Seanad, Regina Doherty, said that while there would be a “significant increase in the social welfare budget this year”, the Government still needs to make sure that work still pays.

“I definitely know that 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.”

But Ms Kerrane said 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.

"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.”

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