Budget didn’t go far enough for Limerick families in poverty


LIMERICK Fianna Fáil TD  Willie O’Dea has challenged the Government to address poverty in Ireland through a series of targeted, funded and measurable actions.

The opposition spokesman on Employment Affairs and Social Protection maintains that hollow soundbites from Ministers completely out of touch with the reality do nothing for the thousands of people living in consistent poverty.

He was commenting on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty this Tuesday.

“The Government’s slick press and media operation cannot hide the unacceptably high rates of poverty in our country. I am calling on them to address poverty in Ireland through a series of targeted, funded and measurable actions,” he said.

“Although Fianna Fáil secured some welcome measures for those dependent on social welfare in Budget 2018, the Government needs to be more proactive when it comes to addressing poverty and social exclusion.”

According to O’Dea, the current situation of 25.5 per cent of the population experiencing deprivation, with 8.7 per cent in consistent poverty, cannot be allowed to continue.

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“The scandal of approximately 3,000 children living in emergency accommodation as a result of familial homelessness; lone parents struggling to make ends meet because of punitive changes made to the One Parent Family Payment and thousands of pensioners, particularly women, being denied a full State Pension due to gross inequality in our pension system must be addressed.

“Fianna Fáil will bring forward a motion in the Dáil this week calling for the changes made to the pension in 2012 to be reversed. O’Dea believes the current system is deeply unfair and thousands of women are being denied a full State pension which is causing a great deal of worry and also financial hardship.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s leading independent children’s charity, Barnardos, claim that while Budget 2018 has provided some small gains for families in Limerick, such as funding for frontline health services and investment in housing supports, it fails to provide real solutions for the major challenges facing children today.

“There are some small improvements for children and families in Limerick: roughly 5,000 children aged three and four will benefit from the now guaranteed two free pre-school years. Over 2,000 lone parents on social welfare will benefit from a €20 increase in the earning disregard meaning they can earn up to €130 per week before it affects their One Parent Family Payment should they return to work,” Barnardos project leader in Limerick South, Aoife Brown explained.

“But the measures introduced in Budget 2018 will not go far enough to overcome the disadvantage that families we work with experience.

“The increase in HAP funding is welcome, but it will not help a family who cannot even get an opportunity to view private rented accommodation – with nearly 1,500 households with children on the social housing list in Limerick this remains a concern.

“There has been no relief for school costs for the families of 23,000 primary school children in Limerick. The investment in frontline health services will hopefully translate into a reduction in waiting lists for children’s health services, but this remains to be seen — there are over 1,000 children in Limerick waiting for an initial assessment or further treatment in the area of speech and language therapy alone,” she commented.

by Alan Jacques

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