Dublin: Winter Fuel Allowance Among Imminent Welfare Cuts

10 Sep

Social welfare cuts to come into effect

Cuts to the fuel allowance for some 630,000 social welfare recipients will come into effect from this week.

The cuts to the household benefits package and the fuel allowance will reduce payments to pensioners and other social welfare recipients by almost €20 a month and up to €35.29 during the winter months.

It’s expected savings of up to €65m a year will be achieved due to these cutbacks.

NEWS UPDATE:

Sinn Féin: The people of Ireland have paid enough

Sinn Féin has delivered a message to Government saying the Irish people have had enough of cuts.

Speaking today at the party’s Ard Fheis in Belfast, Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald said the Government must remember the plight of ordinar people when conducting its Comprehensive Expenditure Review.

“Minister, look to the top – cut at the top, because that’s where you can cut,” she told delegates.

“The ordinary people have taken enough.”

Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said that working people had “paid enough” to ease the country’s financial crisis, calling on the Fine Gael/Labour coalition to shift the burden.

Mr Doherty said the EU/IMF bailout deal was crippling the south’s economy and its society.

“Having promised to renegotiate this bad deal, the new Fine Gael-Labour government have acquiesced to the spirit and letter of the failed Fianna Fáil policy,” he said.

“In exchange for EU and IMF loans our so-called partners in Europe are forcing us to starve our domestic economy of the stimulus it needs while pouring billions of tax-payers’ monies into toxic banks.

“Only a few short weeks ago Fine Gael and Labour threw another €16.4bn of public money into the banks. Yet in the same month they were promising up to €4bn in cuts and tax hikes in the December budget.

“For those of you struggling with lower wages, rising prices and the unjust Universal Social Charge, the Government is saying that you must pay more; they are saying that you must now pay a new household charge, water charges, property taxes and increased income tax bills.

“Sinn Féin says that you have paid enough. There is a better way.”

He called for investment in jobs and services and called for the “banks and bondholders to shoulder their fair share of the burden they helped create”.

He also said an independent distressed mortgage resolution body should help families in fear of losing their homes.

Mr Doherty added: “Our choice would be to change direction and rebuild our economy in a way that puts people first.”

Party president Gerry Adams is due to deliver his keynote speech later tonight in which he is expected to suggest that the party wants to contest the Presidential election.

Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew is believed to be the likely candidate.

Last night Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announced he wants his party to lead an all-Ireland debate on building a new republic ahead of the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916.

Mr McGuinness said that republicans had to continue to work towards Irish unity and he called for a wider debate on the issue.

He added: “I see unionists as brothers and sisters to be loved and cherished as we continue to develop a genuine process of reconciliation on our journey to the New Republic.”

His call for republicans to reach out to unionists followed the historic decision of Protestant Clergyman Rev David Latimer to address the Sinn Féin conference on last night.

Rev Latimer, the first Northern Protestant church figure to speak at a Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, praised Mr McGuinness’s work for peace and called for an end to religious division.

NEWS UPDATE: ADDITION:

IRELAND has a huge number of unemployed young people, and many of those without jobs also lack skills and qualifications — posing a great difficulty in reversing the unemployment trend.

Job losses are on the increase throughout the EU and experts warn that Ireland needs to do something about its growing army of young jobless.

Five EU countries, however, are bucking the trend with falling unemployment rates, but this is creating an even deeper division with the rest of the member states, where jobless rates continue to rise.

There was a decrease in unemployment of close to 750,000 in the 11 months up to March this year, but then the trend reversed, adding 83,000 to the dole queues in the four months to July.

This information was compiled by Eurostat, a division of the European Commission located in Luxembourg.

The EU’s mission to Ireland’s unemployment forecast for this year dropped slightly from 14.5% to 14.3%, Eurostat remain deeply concerned that this will be difficult to reverse any time soon.

More than half those on the register have been there for a year and, with more than one in five young people out of work, the fears of a jobless recovery are being played out.

Not only has the number out of work jumped from around 4% to more than 14% in such a short time, but the profile of youth who are unemployed has changed dramatically from the past.

Now a big number are without skills or higher education, having been laid off from the construction industry.

The EU’s overall youth unemployment rate has improved very slightly and in July was at 20.7%. But this varies greatly from country to country, with 46% of those under the age of 25 being out of work in Spain, while the figure for Austria is 8%.

This reflects the growing divergences between EU members, with six with relatively low unemployment continuing to see an increase in jobs. Austria has gone from 4.3% to 3.7%. Other countries seeing an improvement are Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

Spain, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania all have higher jobless rates than Ireland, while France has seen a considerable jump in two months to close to 10%.

Reports say that consumers’ fears of unemployment have risen sharply — bad news for any hope of an economic recovery through increased domestic spending, while managers in the services sector are equally pessimistic.

NEWS UPDATE:

People on ‘verge of despair’ | 04/11/2010

Carbon tax voucher scheme rejected | 10/11/2010

Cuts to fuel, electricity and phone allowances for some 630,000 social welfare recipients have come into force from this week.

The cuts to the household benefits package and the fuel allowance will reduce payments to pensioners and other social welfare recipients by almost €20 a month and up to €35.29 during the winter months.

The cuts will result in savings in 2011 of €17 million and €65 million in a full year, the Department of Social Protection has said.

The cuts approved by Government last July were regrettable but necessary to achieve savings due to our commitments to the IMF-EU-ECB troika, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton had said.

Allowances will return to 2007 levels, meaning those in receipt of these contributions will receive €8 less towards electricity a month and €8 less towards their monthly gas allowance.

Those in receipt of a smokeless fuel allowance will have the extra €3.90 weekly allowance they receive during the winter months abolished.

The telephone allowance will be cut from €25.91 a month to €22.22 except in the case of Eircom customers – the Government has negotiated a total saving of €26.86 off their bills each month.

The department said it will continue to provide for vulnerable people with special or additional heating needs through the heating supplement and exceptional needs payment scheme under the supplementary welfare allowance plan.

“Assistance with the cost of fuel, electricity, gas and telephone bills has always been an important element of social welfare provision and will continue. My department will spend over €530 million, over half a billion euros, in 2011 on these schemes,” Ms Burton said.

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