By Sarah Mac Donald - 25 October, 2013
The Society of St Vincent de Paul has hit out at Budget 2014, warning it has created new poverty traps while offering little hope to thousands of people.
In a statement issued as the Social Welfare Bill – which gives effect to the provisions of Budget 2014 – is being debated in the Dáil, the SVP hits out at the removal of the full medical card from those returning to employment and the reduction in earnings disregard for the One Parent Family Payment.
It is also critical of the removal of the One Parent Family tax credit affecting those who are sharing parenting and in employment and the discontinuation of the payment of a VTOS/FAS training allowance to recipients of the One Parent Family Payment.
The Society also highlights how successive governments have implemented continued cuts in budgets since 2008 which have targeted children and families with cuts to supports like child benefit, social welfare, household benefits, medical cards and education.
This year, it says young people and older people were targeted, notably young people who are unable to find employment and older people who are isolated or suffering from ill health will be badly affected.
It adds that the cumulative impact of cuts in previous budgets continue to affect those who are struggling, as further reductions in income announced in Budget 2013 are set to come into force from January 2014.
However, the SVP has welcomed the fact that a number of key supports such as most social welfare payments, family income supplement, child benefit, fuel allowance and educational supports, which were central to the SVP pre-budget submission, were protected.
The Society recalls that it asked the Government to announce a budget for 2014 which did not cause further damage to communities and people, rather that it announce one which would provide hope and a future to look forward to.
However, the SVP states, there was little by way of hope provided for many people in Budget 2014.
This includes older people in poor health or living in isolation; individuals and families who fear losing their medical card and those who have already lost the medical card in spite of being in medical and financial need.
It also includes people who can no longer afford to pay for the prescriptions they need; families with children who have borne the brunt of the cuts in recent years and young people who now feel that the only option open to them is to try and find the resources they need to emigrate.
In the lead up to Budget 2014, the SVP launched the ‘Make Your Voice Heard’ campaign which was seeking fairness and an end to austerity in Budget 2014.
People across Ireland shared their personal experiences of the stress, hardship and worry that austerity has brought into their lives.
The SVP believes that thanks to those who supported its campaign, some of the harshest cuts that we have seen in recent years were not repeated.
A selection of the public comments and further information is available on www.svp.ie/yourvoiceheard.