Republican News · Thursday 02 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Welfare Bill creates two-tier poverty

In providing smaller increases to welfare recipients other than the elderly, the government is creating a two-tier system of ``deserving'' and ``undeserving'' poor. So said Sinn FéinTD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin when he spoke on the Social Welfare Bill 2000. He also called for the increases in Child Benefit to be brought forward from September to May. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The special increases for pensioners are welcome but to provide smaller increases for those who are not in receipt of age-related payments is, in effect, to create a two-tier system and to treat one group as `deserving' and the other as `undeserving'.

``It is totally unacceptable that the increases in Child Benefit will still only be paid from 1 September, when other social welfare payment increases have been brought forward from June to May.

``Long before the Celtic Tiger in 1986 the Commission on Social Welfare recommended minimum levels of welfare payments. It was only 13 years later in 1999 that those levels were finally reached. What happened in the interim? After a period of mass unemployment and emigration and the devastation of communities we saw an economic upturn which reduced unemployment and emigration but which has not eliminated poverty. While many have benefitted, the gap between those dependent on social welfare and their fellow citizens has actually widened in this economy.

``The economic upturn has been built on the efforts of Irish workers, a majority of whom in survey published in November 1999, favoured social spending rather than tax reductions as a means of achieving a more egalitarian society. The Budget and this Social Welfare Bill go in the opposite direction.''

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