€400million announced in the Government support package today for social protection measures is welcome. But increasing core social welfare rates would have been more effective in ensuring those on the lowest incomes are not pulled further into poverty.
SVP says that the specific measures announced today such as the €100 extra for the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is a welcome measure that will help struggling families on low income. The Society also welcomes the expansion of the school meals programme to deal with the growing problem of food poverty.
However, SVP is disappointed that permanent measures which they have called for and are badly needed have not been included.
* Increasing core social welfare rates by €8 to prevent a further rise in poverty.
* Increasing the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) for those under 12 by €5 per week and for those over 12 by €10 per week. This would match the rising cost of raising children and to prevent an increase in child poverty.
* The extension of the Fuel Allowance to families in receipt of the Working Family Payment
SVP had also called for a targeted credit to gas pre-pay meter customers to recognise the additional vulnerability of this group at heightened risk of disconnection. But that was unfortunately not part of the announcement today.
Dr Tricia Keilthy, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy said; “There is no doubt the extra payments will bring temporary relief to many household. But we been clear that Government can no longer rely on short term responses to what are longer term problems.”
She added; “The 20% increase in calls for help which we experienced last year increasing again since the beginning of this year shows the extent of long-term issues that needs to be addressed”.
As we have said repeatedly over the longer term the basic rate of social welfare should match a Minimum Essential Standard of Living. This would be a floor, under which no one would be expected to live and where everyone could afford the essentials to live and participate in Irish society.”