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14 March 2012

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All Party Committee calls on Minister to halt plans for Single Working Age Payment

Significant Oireachtas report authored by Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh

“Members of all parties on this Committee have come to the conclusion, based on extensive consultation that the minister needs to put the brakes on this proposal."

On Tuesday (March 13) an All Party Oireachtas report published today said that if Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton goes ahead with her plan to introduce a Single Working Age Payment, the ratio of jobseekers to vacancies could more than double.

Speaking at the report’s launch at the Dáil, committee member Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (Sinn Féin) called on Minister Burton to drop her plan. He described it as “a backward step for a caring society in the current climate.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh was appointed Rapporteur last December by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education on the minister’s proposal to merge all working age social assistance schemes into a single payment.

As part of his work Ó Snodaigh met and received detailed submissions from 15 organisations including representatives of people with disabilities, carers, lone parents, the unemployed and employer bodies.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “Members of all parties on this Committee have come to the conclusion, based on extensive consultation that the minister needs to put the brakes on this proposal.

“Advancing it without providing the necessary supports and services, never mind jobs, amounts to nothing short of an attack on our social welfare system, an attack on society's safety net.

“If it were to go ahead the ratio of jobseekers to vacancies could jump from the current ratio of 50:1 up to more than 100:1. To put this in to context the current EU23 average ratio of jobseekers to vacancies is just 9:1.

“The 69 page all-party report also calls on the minister to maintain the value of social welfare payments including secondary benefits despite the fact that the Fine Gael/Labour Party Programme for Government only commits to maintain primary rates.

“The question of whether to include carers or not in any single payment has gone back and forth over the last couple of years. The report considers the arguments and reaches a firm conclusion that carers should not be included because the requirement to be engaged full-time in the delivery of care is incompatible with the requirement to be actively seeking and available for work.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh concluded by saying, “I am delighted to have secured all-Party backing for my report. I hope it will positively influence the government and I will be presenting the Troika with the report and highlighting its conclusions when I meet them with my own party colleagues later this month.”

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