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Posts tagged ‘Welfare’

Ireland’s poorest get 20% poorer as richest get 4% richer

By Evelyn Ring

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ireland’s poorest families experienced an income drop of almost 20% in one year while income of the richest increased by 4%.

The figures released today  by Social Justice Ireland are calculated from the latest CSO data  and relate to 2010.
There was a drop of more than 18% in the disposable income bracket (after taxes are paid and social welfare received) for the poorest households during the year.
Social Justice Ireland has blamed government policy for continuing to increase the income of the richest 10% of households and widening the gap between the wealthy and the rest of society.
It says the top 10% of the population receive almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest 10% — it was eight times more in 1980.
Social Justice Ireland director Sean Healy said the current strategy by the Government was making the situation worse.
“There is something profoundly wrong with government decisions that produce this lop-sided distribution of income favouring the richest when Ireland’s poor and middle income people struggle to make ends meet in these extremely difficult times.”
The independent thinktank  is concerned that decisions have been taken that have seriously damaged Ireland’s most vulnerable people.

full article at source: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/irelands-poorest-get-20-poorer-as-richest-get-4-richer-200840.html

An Open letter to Michael Noonan


sent in to me to-day

By Dave Morrissey

Dear Michael Noonan,

 I read your comments on the Keane Report this week and how this glorious
new modern fairy tale will help families ‘break shackles’ of debt. I can only
assume that you did a Cowen and skipped over the report because you obviously
have no idea whatsoever about the plight that families find
themselves in.

Let me say straight off, I do not have a family of my own so there are no
little ones to worry about. And I didn’t buy at the height of the boom – I’ve
been living in a 2-bedroomed apartment since 1999. Neither did I buy an
investment property (or two) in my own or any other country. I have the one
home, that’s it. I do not have a 52″ plasma screen above my fireplace,
designer furniture with colour matching curtains; I do not even have a car
anymore, I had to give that back to the bank in February; I do not have health
insurance, my pension is on hold indefinitely, my phone line no longer exists
and I had to start selling off personal possessions for a pittance. I don’t
have a job either. I am technically self-employed but when there is so little
work out there, the only interest I have is in how far that money will go to
keep me alive, not how much of it I will give to a corporation. When no work
can be secured, no money can be pulled in because our fantastic system doesn’t
reward failure and self employed people receive no social welfare. So if I
don’t get any work, I don’t get anything.

So as you can see, I have had to undergo my own set of austerity measures
outside of the bigger ones you are planning to inflict on the nation in a few
weeks. And yet your comments on the Keane Report still made me angry. In case
you’ve forgotten what you said let me give you a little jolt:

“There would be some cases
where people would not be able to remain in their homes, saying it would “not
be in the interests of the taxpayer”.

Fancy language there Michael, did you actually say that? Tax payers are
people in case it slipped your mind. Or are people now JUST tax payers? Or is
there a distinction that must be made? Do people suddenly change into just tax
payers when they become 18? Let me tell you I resent being referred to as a
‘tax payer’ because the last time I checked, I was a flesh and blood human
being. This is obviously an attempt to divide us into two separate factions. Oh,
but of course you’ve already being doing that by pushing this division of ‘can’t
pay/won’t pay’
. It’s terribly transparent Michael and a lot of us
can see through it no matter how many times you try and brand some people.

So Michael, your esteemed Keane Report does not cater for me so it looks
like I’m going to be one of those who will not be able to remain in my home.
After all, I’ve stopped contributing to the banks welfare and therefore I must
be punished with eviction. But wait…the structure of my apartment is sound,
there are no defects, the neighbors know me as a kindly, positive individual so
I’m not a trouble maker, I don’t see the walls or ceiling falling in, the place
is not a fire hazard. Yes, the apartment is definitely 100% structurally sound.
Yet, I cannot remain in my home?

So Michael, explain the logic of why I must leave my home. And
while you’re at it, explain how it has become acceptable to sacrifice people’s
lives to feed the bankers greed. Explain how you can make a statement like the one
above where there seems to be some acceptable level of ‘collateral

When did people become expendable Michael?

That’s exactly what you have said this week and it astonishes me that you
have been let away with it. When you place bank welfare above even one
individual then you have failed every single individual.

Well I’m calling you out Michael. I want YOU to look ME in the eye and tell
me that I can no longer stay in my home. I want YOU to tell ME face to face
that you have my best interests at heart. I want YOU to assure ME 100% that my
well being comes before that of any bank or corporation. And I would like
answers to those questions to be free of statistics and double-talk. I’ve been
totally straight with you, I expect the very same back and nothing less.

Who do you work for Michael?

I should clarify for the record that I am NOT going to leave my home. I
will NOT just hand back the keys, I’m not leaving! I do not accept that
eviction, or, let’s call it for what it is – forced removal, is something that is inevitable. The whole idea of eviction, even down to the removal of one single individual is abhorrent and anyone who countenances such an action should not be allowed to represent the Irish people.You are great at fighting the bank’s corner, we see it every single day. You will very soon be called to explain to the Irish people why you are failing them on an ever increasing level at a faster rate as the days go on. In fact I
am doing just that. I demand answers and am holding you to account.

This letter has been sent by registered post. I will know when it has been
received by your office. I want a response by November 14th, by YOU, in plain
English. I do NOT want a generic piece of rubbish written by and signed by
someone in your office on your behalf. Should there be no response from you, I
will forward this letter to as many media outlets as possible.

It’s up to you Michael. I will not be fobbed off and I will not put up with
double talk any longer. I am sick and tired of the likes of you talking at me
and telling me there’s more pain on the way while the banks are catered for at
every turn. It’s time to cut the crap! I suspect I will not be the last one to
start fighting back, I suggest you start getting your house in order, and



Right To Work on Sept 14th at the Dail! 5:30pm – 7:30pm

The Dáil will return from its eight-week summer break this
afternoon for what is expected to be a busy autumn session. The Dáil and Seanad
will have plenty of other legislation to process. The Government is committed
under the terms of the deal with the IMF and EU to introduce a number of
substantial pieces of legislation. The Budget will be introduced at the start
of December and you can bet the poor and the unemployed will be hit hard while
these pampered lads and lasses will sit in the Dail and spout off with their obnoxious
platitudes as they pass even more severe austerity measures .If you really want
to have a say then come down and face these public leaches and give them some
of your mind

Machholz will be there will you???

the following was extracted from  Facebook :link here :https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=238410742863801

Joan Burton – Could you live on €188 a week?
Dole is not a ‘Lifestyle choice’
 The government is planning to cut spending on social welfare. It is taking orders from the IMF-EU and wants to make us suffer. The unemployed are being sacrificed to pay off the international bankers.
Joan Burton’s has claimed that unemployment is a ‘lifestyle choice’.
But this is a real insult to those who are looking for work. Very few of us have cho…sen to live on €188 euro a week. And the last thing we need is another Maggie Thatcher who is trying to turn us into scapegoats.
 The real spongers in this country are not to be found on the dole queues. We should instead be looking at bankers who have walked away with pensions of over €600,000 a year – after making a mess of the country.
 The Minister for ‘Social Protection’ Joan Burton has just announced a cut to fuel and household allowances. Struggling households of the elderly, carers, loan parents and the unemployed will be hard hit with this attack.
Joan Burton has also stated that if we refuse to accept places on schemes we will have our dole cut by 44 euro a week!
 The number of free units of electricity available per year will also be reduced from 2,400 to 1,800. On top of this the smokeless fuel allowance to 150,000 people living in major cities such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Tralee will be abolished.
 Blaming the unemployed for unemployment won’t create a single job and is a smokescreen to disguise what’s really going on: Unemployment is caused by the greed of the rich. Investment has dropped by 70% in the last two years. This has happened because people who made a fortune during the boom years are sitting on their cash and waiting for wages and welfare to drop.
This is the source of unemployment and no amount of punishment of the poor will rectify the situation.
Burton’s attacks on the unemployment shows that she wants to cut social welfare again in the next budget. The only way to stop her is to organise and get on the streets in big protests.
 Across the Middle East, and in Greece and Spain, people are rising up and demanding their say in how society should be run. We need to do the same in Ireland.
 On September 14th, the Dail is opening after a long summer break. We, the unemployed should get out in their in our thousands to say:
• No More Cuts
• We want a public works schemes to give us jobs.
Join us in trying to bring the spirit of revolt to Ireland!

  Right To Work on Sept 14th at the Dail!

 Join the campaign text JOIN to 0872604143

Obama’s new jobs Stimulus


If you think things are bad in the US. Here in Ireland our government
have abandoned the unemployed, They have spent billions in bailing out Bankers
and developers .Not one single penny has been spent on jobs creation ,every
penny raised in income taxes goes to pay the interest on new debts created by forcing the private gambling debts of the Banks on to the ordinary taxpayers .There has been no Jobs stimulus, we have instead higher taxes and new stealth taxes, cuts is social welfare and cuts in healthcare and higher salaries and golden handshakes for the incompetent unelected insiders (Top civil servants) running the country. The government are doing everything to encourage people to emigrate so they don’t have to
pay job seeker’s allowance to them .

All we have to look forward to is more of the same from  the clueless politicians spouting the same trip in their usual condescending manor whilst they protect their own backs from their own backstabbing party hacks who dream of taking away their Dail seats in the next election.

At least Obama is going to spend a few dollars on job creation in the US !

What have we learned ? Nothing !

2066 years later,

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.  People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

Cicero55 BC So what have we learned in 2,066 years?

Apparently nothing.

OECD says unemployment payments should be reduced


OECD proposal on unemployment payments is preposterous and perverse Social Justice Ireland has strongly criticised a proposal from the OECD that unemployment payments should be reduced over time to encourage unemployed people to take up employment. The vast majority of unemployed people would take up any job that was available. Just a few years ago the long-term unemployment rate in Ireland was one of the lowest in the world at 1.3%. Many people became unemployed because of the collapse in the economy. The greatest devastation of this recession is being borne by those who have lost their jobs. There is no evidence to suggest these people would not take up a job if it were available. Blaming unemployed people for the failures in the economy and the inability to produce jobs is perverse in the extreme. Social Justice Ireland wishes to point out that: • Two thirds of a million people in Ireland are at risk of poverty. • At least 90,000 of those employed in Ireland are at risk of poverty. These are the ‘working poor’. • Social welfare payments for unemployed people are €34 a week below the poverty line for a single person and €56 a week for a couple over 25 years of age. • Social welfare payments for unemployed people below 25 years of age are up to €122 a week for a single person and €168 a week for a couple belo! w the poverty line. The proposal by the OECD that unemployment payments should be reduced further shows the OECD is totally out of touch with the reality of the lives of people who are unemployed and are ignoring the fact that they are unemployed because a sufficient number of jobs don’t exist in the economy. The claim that everybody should make a contribution to the adjustment required in Ireland at present has been repeated like a mantra in policy discussion and public commentary. Yet it is only half true. Yes, Social Justice Ireland agrees everyone should make a contribution insofar as they can. But we do not accept that some people should be driven into poverty because of the contribution that is demanded of them. To do this is to try to solve one problem by creating a deeper and more long-lasting one. “We reject any attempt to solve Ireland’s problems by increasing inequality or by forcing the most vulnerable members of the popu! lation into a situation where they do not have the resources to live life with dignity” according to Fr Healy. ‘Hits’ on poor people and the low-paid have far bigger negative impact than larger hits on the better off who have resources to absorb the hits. It is profoundly wrong for example that poor people carry a major burden while senior bond-holders, who carry a large part of the responsibility for Ireland’s implosion, make no contribution to sharing the burden.

PDF doc here :Irish Society at a glance

The OECD has warned that that unemployment in Ireland is becoming an “intractable” problem.

In its economic outlook for 2012 published today the organisation however said it is cautiously optimistic about the country’s prospects for economic recovery.

“Ireland is continuing to undertake a comprehensive and vital adjustment programme to reduce its macroeconomic imbalances and restore its banking system to health,” the report said.

“Despite robust export growth, weak domestic demand and ongoing fiscal consolidation have prevented an economic recovery from unfolding so far.

“As domestic demand stabilises, a modest upturn of output is expected in the course of 2011, with some acceleration in 2012.

“The unemployment rate is likely to stay high, and core deflation to continue.”

The report’s authors said recovery this year will be gradual, and speed up in 2012.

The OECD said Ireland must adhere to the adjustment programme laid down by the EU and IMF and in particular lowering our budget deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2015.

“Improving competitiveness through wage restraint and structural reforms should remain a priority,” the report said.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said jobs are the Government’s top priority.

However Social Justice Ireland has strongly criticised a proposal from the OECD that unemployment payments should be reduced over time to encourage unemployed people to take up employment.

“The vast majority of unemployed people would take up any job that was available” according to Fr Seán Healy, the organisations’ director.

“Blaming unemployed people for the failures in the economy and the inability to produce jobs is perverse in the extreme”..

Read more: http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/oecd-cautiously-optimistic-but-warns-on-unemployment-506381.html#ixzz1NNH1CQxs

latest from Ronan lyons

A little over a year ago, I wrote about the “eight things on Ireland’s to-do list” when it came to Government finances. It outlined three taxation measures and five expenditure measures that would help a Government get the deficit back to manageable levels by 2015, while facing an interest rate above 5% on a growing national debt.

The three main tax measures will be familiar with to long-standing readers of the blog: increasing the amount of income tax the typical earner pays, introducing a Universal Social Charge, and bringing in a sustainable annual property tax. These were designed to bring total Exchequer revenues up from €51bn to about €58bn by 2015.

The job for expenditure was an even bigger one: to go from total spending of almost €70bn in 2010 to about €60bn. The reason that this job is so tricky is because €45bn of the €55bn in current expenditure in 2010 was spending on healthcare, education or social welfare, areas many members of the public most want to see protected.

Low hanging fruit

One of the eight things I had was reducing capital spending slowly over the period to a sustainable level of €4.6bn. This would save almost €2bn of the €10bn needed. Already, though, the estimate of capital spending for 2011 is €4.6bn. This means that in three short years, capital spending has been halved. Aside from those work on these projects, whose livelihoods we should not discount, the people who benefit from capital projects are “future us”: you, me and our children, using better roads, rail, or broadband, for example. Compared to the public servants that the Government has to work with every day, though, “future us” is a very easy target. The easy cuts have been made.

If the same scale of cuts had been made in health, education and social welfare, the government would have saved €20bn! Instead, spending in those three areas this year will be €2bn higher than in 2008, largely due to more people needing social welfare. The depressing conclusion is that, three tough Budgets later, all the “low-hanging fruit” has been picked, leaving just the more painful cuts needed to close the deficit.

Clearly, though, it isn’t as easy to cut spending in health, education and social welfare. That’s because the bulk of all this money goes directly into someone else’s pocket as income. What these departments need is a combination of natural attrition of staff and productivity-driven growth that delivers savings each year every year for five years of the order of 5%. This is on a completely different scale to what the Croke Park Agreement has currently planned. It is estimated that its efficiency measures in education would save 0.5%, one tenth of the savings needed in a single year.

Slash and burn?

Worryingly, there isn’t the first indication yet that the new Government has a grasp on the scale of transformation in public spending needed. Earlier this month, the Department of Finance published its briefing note to the new Minister – complete with blacked out paragraphs right out of Hollywood. It included yet more easy targets: there are plans to further cut capital spending to just €3.6bn. Amazingly, though, where one might have expected cuts of the order of €4bn in health and education over the next five years, there are cuts of less than €300m! Spending in education is actually projected to increase slightly. Given that, it’s almost surreal to see Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education, come out today and say that cuts in education will not be ’slash and burn’

Ireland’s government finances, by major area (€m), 2008-2014

A comparison of 2008, 2011 and where we might be in 2014, both my own thoughts [RL] and those gleaned from the Department of Finance report [DOF], is in the graph above. Income is on the left, spending is on the right. The Department of Finance do not include projections in relation to taxation – but we can at least back out some round numbers, the shaded purple numbers on the left, based on the total for spending and the ceiling on the deficit.

Looking to Budget 2012

There are three things that worry me about the Department of Finance’s numbers.

  • The first – as mentioned above – is that they are still going for the easy options, cutting capital spending and increasing spending on education.
  • The second is that to compensate they are, even if only implicitly, planning for greater tax increases on a private sector already credit starved and hard-pressed with unemployment and negative equity.
  • Lastly, the only way the numbers tally as they do is because they are counting on social welfare expenditure to fall by almost €3bn. I had estimated a fall in welfare payments of €1.2bn, based on a 2% economic growth rate. What growth rates are they using?

Budget 2012 will be the first proper opportunity the new Government has to stamp its authority on the direction its finances take over the next few years. It must seize that opportunity and put in place realistic targets.

Last week, I appeared on Eamon Dunphy’s radio show. Someone texted into the show and referred to myself and others as public sector “bashers”. This came as a surprise to me. I want well-funded public services that deliver an excellent social return on the investment taxpayers make. Nor am I a public-sector-worker basher. I want those who work in services that are publicly provided to be well-paid. But we won’t be able to do these things if we can’t prove to ourselves and others that the Government is able to spend in accordance with the money it earns. And there is no indication yet that the new Government is aware of the size of the challenge.

full article source: http://www.ronanlyons.com/2011/04/26/%e2%80%9cslash-and-burn%e2%80%9d-anything-but-the-need-for-realism-in-budget-2012/


 With the introduction of  the Universal Social Charge,( you’re suggestion)  the bringing in an annual property tax not to mention the proposed water charges, the new proposed toll on National roads, the selling of state assets, the ever increasing billions to bail out the toxic banks, and the constant increase in petrol prices  ,I’m sure a few more taxes on the average worker is just what the country needs right now ,Never mind the lottery salaries the TD’s get and the pensions and perks the last 120 gangsters got when they  left the Dail. What about the immoral and ** unjustified massive salaries of the top people in the various guanos .Until the government cuts these massive salaries down to the European norms at least, they are risking open revolt. With reference to your appearance on MR. Dunphy’s show I can only say you appear to be totally out of touch with the struggle ordinary people are trying to cope with and I believe it won’t take much more for the people to bring about civil unrest the likes Europe hasn’t seen yet if this government continue to look after the insiders and well connected .I am sure if I had you salary I wouldn’t mind paying more taxes .Have you noticed that the majority of so called experts that come on these shows  are in fact been paid bloated salaries out of the public purse.

PDF on  Top Public servents pay

I hope to God the IMF will force the government to cut these extravagant salaries and quick and then let’s see them call for more taxes!  

** http://thepressnet.com/2011/04/24/we-need-an-easer-rising-today/

Some reasons why you should vote for me!

Dear Resident my name is Thomas Clarke and a vote for me is for:


·         A vote for me is a vote to stop the madness of powering billions into black holes, no nonsense legislation such as over regulation in health and safety and common sense.


·         A vote for me is a vote for a better deal for the self-employed and entrepreneurs  reversing the penal taxes on commercial vehicles and giving access to the same social benefits as the PAYE workers


·         A vote for me is a vote for more accountability and for vigorous prosecution of white collar crime


·         A vote for me is for the abolition of the universal social charge


·         A vote for me is a vote for a jobs stimulus plan that will address the needs of the unemployed and local business and not the needs of pen pushers in FAS


·         A vote for me will cost you 66% less than other TD’s as I will work for the average industrial wage


·         A vote for me is a vote for proven local commitment and for common sense! 


·         For more information please log on to www.wicklowindependent.net


·         Thomas Clarke  thomasclarke3@gmail.com


 If I did not manage to call to you it was because I physically did not manage to get to your door with 130 ,000 voters scattered all over the Wicklow County to get to talking to everybody for 2 minutes there is just not enough time to get to every door

Thomas Clarke  

New Budget 2011 on the way ???


Sent in to me this morning


Whatever about the disputes over facilitating the passage of the Finance Bill, what people want to know is what parties are going to do about it when they get into office. And this is where progressives can stop feuding with each other and get the debate back to where it belongs – showing how Budget 2011 will do such harm to economic recovery and fiscal stability. And, more importantly, what can be done to remove that harm and show how a progressive platform will bring immediate benefit to the economy and living standards.

Here’s one way of doing that:  a precondition for entering government should be the enactment of an emergency budget within 60 days based on three concrete pledges.

  • Repeal the Universal Social Charge
  • Immediately release funds for public investment
  • Reverse the cuts in social welfare income and the minimum wage

Let’s go through these three pledges.

Pledge 1: Repeal the Universal Social Charge

The Universal Social Charge (USC) should be repealed and the previous tax regime – the Income Levy and Health Contribution Levy – should be reinstated. This has no budgetary implications as it would be, per Government estimates, fiscally neutral. But the benefit to households and the economy would be considerable:


As seen, low-income earners could benefit by up to €10 per week while higher income groups would lose out. This would help economic growth – low-income earners spend their additional income; high-income earners tend to save.

This platform could be developed. For instance, the Health Contribution Levy, while maintaining its former thresholds, could be integrated into the Income Levy which has a more progressive base (e.g. rents and dividends are exempt from the Health Levy). Therefore, abolishing USC could actually be a revenue raising measure.

In addition, further progressive tax measures could be introduced alongside repealing the USC. The Community Platform, TASC, ICTU and other civil society organisations – all have put forward practical and easily implemented proposals in the areas of tax expenditures and extension of levies to capital income. The total impact of this would be to increase tax revenue further while providing a small stimulus to low-average income households in the form of removing deflationary tax increases.

Pledge 2: Immediately Release Funds for Public Investment

The second pledge would be to immediately release €2 billion for investment- to come from a combination of the Pension Fund and Exchequer cash balances (we still have nearly €30 billion in liquid assets). This would be done in tandem with re-opening negotiations with the IMF/EU to ring-fence our cash and assets for investment/fiscal consolidation purposes.

To ensure it gets on-stream as quickly as possible, this investment would be largely pumped into ‘shovel-ready’ projects at central and local government (a good start would be refurbish every school to best standard in time for autumn classes).

However, we can go beyond ‘bricks and mortars’ – as UNITE has shown: modern information systems, preventative health initiatives, one-on-one tutoring to raise literacy and numeracy skills (both in schools and in the community), loan guarantee schemes for SMEs, etc.

The economy would not get a full year benefit from this increased investment. But let’s assume 50 percent of the total multiplier gets into the economy by year’s end (it will continue to benefit the economy for an additional 5 and a half years):

  • 10,000 jobs created directly with an additional 3,000 to 4,000 spin-off jobs
  • Reduction in unemployment and related costs
  • An additional €350 million in tax revenue
  • A GDP boost of 0.75 percent

A big impetus – which would take some time to get off the ground – would be an announcement that a public enterprise company will be established to build a Next Generation Broadband network to reach every household and business by 2015. While publicly-directed and owned, private investment can be leveraged in. This would be a clear signal of intent: that we are going to invest our way to economic recovery and fiscal stability.

Pledge 3: Reverse the Cuts in Social Welfare Income and the Minimum Wage

A pledge to reverse the cuts in social welfare income and the minimum wage should also be non-negotiable. This measure would boost demand and GDP, increase business turnover, protect retail employment and raise tax revenue (e.g. VAT, etc.). Therefore, it would end up costing the Exchequer far less than the headline cost of repealing the social welfare cuts (€397 million) while reversing the minimum wage will actually boost Exchequer revenue.

There are other measures – minimal in cost but capable of lifting inequitable burdens on those on low incomes while increasing demand:

  • Repealing the GMS co-payments – not likely to cost much after administrative savings are taken into account
  • Protect all minimum wages – namely, no cut in pay rates and working conditions under Joint Labour Committees
  • Increase Family Income Supplement by the amount as in Budget 2010 – €6 per child per week: this will enhance living standards of thousands of low and average income families with children.

Any increase on the public expenditure side would be more than compensated by tax measure introduced on high income groups (under Pledge 1), tax revenue from investment activity (under Pledge 2), and the benefit of higher demand that increasing people’s living standards would produce (under Pledge 3). Its win-win-win.

* * *

This simple three-point programme does not address all the economic and social issues which progressive parties will have to address in their election manifestos, never mind when they are in government.

However, it would give a short, sharp signal to the electorate about progressive values and priorities. It will show people how people will be better off after 60 days of a progressive government. It will give everyone a clear picture of the medium-term direction of the new government.

And it will give something for progressives to agree over, instead of attacking each other. Such feuding only brings the prospect that more of the same failed economic thinking will dominate in the next government.

And who wants that?


I  do not necessarily share the opinions of the various articles posted here I am merely showing alternative opinions

Public sector workers forced to look for welfare to survive

One third of households are now the ‘working poor’

Public servants are queuing up for social welfare in an effort to make ends meet. Clerical officers and staff officers are applying in their droves and qualifying for emergency social welfare assistance to meet mortgage repayments and household bills.

Ironically, while the Government is taking away with one hand in pay cuts and pension levies it’s having to fork out with the other as full time public sector workers are feeling the pinch and struggling to meet their financial commitments.

One well paid principal officer in the Department of Education told the Sunday Independent, “This is not at all unusual now, in fact it’s quite common, everyone in the civil service knows about it. Even staff officers with kids are getting hand outs from the social welfare. It’s amazing what’s going on and a bit strange that the Government are cutting wages and having to top them up with welfare payments. You would wonder sometimes, what’s the real saving.”

There is a raft of social welfare entitlements for which even people in work can qualify if they make a sufficiently strong case. The Department of Social Welfare, MABS the money advice bureau and citizen advice centres confirm that they are over run by families seeking assistance and applying for family income supplement (FIS) rent and mortgage allowances, school books and clothing subsidies and other emergency social welfare payments. Low paid public servants average about €450 a week.

The news comes as a further 70,000 SIPTU members joined the work-to-rule in the public sector last week, swelling the numbers from IMPACT, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, CPSU , Unite, the Public Service Executive Union and the three teacher unions already involved in the go-slow, to almost 250,000 public service employees.

One local authority official told the Sunday Independent that some people in the public sector are struggling and are no longer hiding it. “At one staff meeting this week a colleague announced, ‘I’m on family income supplement and I’m not afraid to say it. It’s nothing I’m ashamed of.’ These people have children, their partners are not working and they’re under the threshold to qualify for social welfare, there’s no question about it. But it’s a pretty crazy situation for people on a salary if they have to top it up with family income supplement, what’s the agenda? People are struggling, like lots of families are struggling, especially those who bought a house at the wrong time, they’re scared and at their wits end.”

This is borne out by the latest data from the Money and Budgeting Service (MABS) whose end of year report for 2009 showed the number of people seeking help with debt and mortgage repayments more than doubled last year to 24,800. The bulk of new clients were married, aged 26 to 40 with children and a mortgage.

“We are seeing more and more people seeking advice and support from low pay categories who are in difficulty with paying for utilities and other debts. We help people who are finding it hard to make ends meet whether they have a wage or not, we wouldn’t know where they work as we don’t collate that kind of information,” explained MABS spokesman Michael Culloty.

On Wednesday the Government confirmed that the unemployment figure for last month was 436,936, a rise of 13,000 since December and a jobless rate of 12.7%. Data from the Department of Social Welfare also revealed that unscheduled social welfare payments by the State in 2009 rose by €244 million to a total of €1,048m, an increase of 23%. €508m of this went on rent supplements and related payments.

Father Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland Father Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland

In a policy statement this week Father Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland called on the Government to recognise the problem of the “working poor” which accounts for 39.6% of all households, a total of 116,000, where the head of the family has a job.

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment available to married and unmarried employees with children. It is designed to give extra financial support to people on low pay and the income threshold varies according to family size. If you are getting FIS you may also be entitled to the fuel allowance and the back to school clothing and footwear allowance


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