GOVERNMENT policy is directly slowing down the social-welfare process and leaving people penniless, according to city councillor Tom Shortt.
“The government is implementing cuts by stealth and leaving people waiting for social welfare payments and rent allowance”. He said a huge number of people are presenting themselves to him with problems with the social welfare system.
“People are waiting longer than normal, the poorest of the poor are waiting weeks for decisions on what they are entitled to”.
A hidden layer of people are being affected, he argues, claiming it is now government policy to slow down decisions to make their accounts look healthier.
“It seems to be a trend now that people are being put on the long finger and are left penniless and hungry.
“I’m meeting horrendous cases and it can be very painful for those who are waiting”.
Younger sections of the population are particularly vulnerable to this policy, according to Cllr Shortt.
“It’s definitely affecting those between 18 and 21 and whose benefit has been halved to €100.
“In families who may already be hard pressed, the parents may have lost their jobs and are finding it difficult to support them”.
In spite of this, he is happy that a more realistic level of rent allowance is now being paid to landlords.
Another stumbling block is the Habitual Resident condition, which affects those who are returning to Ireland after years abroad.
“This feature of social welfare was adopted to frustrate foreign nationals but is affecting the Irish returning home and who have lost there jobs in other countries.
“It’s just not right… I had man come to me recently who had returned from America and couldn’t get the dole because of this. How can a citizen not be entitled to social welfare?”