Reform of the Social Welfare System
Over the last number of years, most Irish people have seen a loss in living standards.Falling wages and higher taxes have a put a strain on family finances. But it is thosewho have lost their jobs and those already dependent on the welfare system whohave fared the worst. Unemployment has risen to over 288,000
persons and theunemployment rate now stands at 13.4%
Due to plunging tax revenue since 2008, it was necessary to make a number of cutsto basic welfare rates. This was regrettable but the Green Party has consistentlysought to keep these cuts to a minimum. Throughout the financial crisis, pensionershave maintained their benefit level as a result of their specific vulnerabilities, a policywhich the Green Party consistently supported.
The Green Party proposes that no more than
800m be cut from the social protectionbudget over the next three years. Savings in this area should be achieved throughfurther anti-fraud measures and through the integration of the taxation and socialwelfare system, which will not only save money, but will lead to a more fair and moretargeted welfare system.
While it is clear that we must continue to find savings in the social welfare budget, wemust also be careful to protect the continued existence of much needed programmesand universal payments such as child benefit, ensuring that the system remainsrobust.
With rising unemployment and decreasing tax revenues, social protection policy over the past two years focused on retrenchment. It is now time to turn the focus fromwelfare cuts to reform, ensuring that our welfare system is more accessible, flexibleand empowers people to improve their skills and return to work.
The Green Party pledges:- No cuts to basic social welfare payments- No cuts to the state pension
Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) September 2010
CSO, January 2011