Joan Collins TD has condemned the statement by IMF Mission Chief to Ireland, Craig Beaumont, that welfare payments in Ireland are too high. She said “It is outrageous that extremely well paid un-elected officials like Mr Beaumont should be demanding that those who have borne the brunt of the crisis should face even more cuts. I challenge Mr Beaumont, or any other well heeled bureaucrat from the IMF, the EU Commission or the ECB to live on the income of a person on the dole, or reliant on the state pension, or disability benefit, or a lone parent, for even a week and see how they get by.
The Troika are demanding that dole payments be cut to force the unemployed to take whatever work is available, regardless of pay or conditions. The fact that there are no jobs is not their concern. The aim is to drive down wages and conditions for anyone lucky enough to still have a job. They are also demanding means testing of child benefit and medical cards for the over 70s. Means testing of benefits creates an administrative nightmare. People are now waiting up to a year for assessment of claims by the Dept of Social Protection.
The claims by this government, and Social protection Minister Joan Burton of the Labour Party, that they are protecting the most vulnerable would be laughable, if it wasn’t for the tragedy being inflicted on the poorest in society. Social justice Ireland has examined data from the Central Statistics Office for the year 2010 and claims that the bottom 10% suffered an 18% fall in income while the top 10% got a 4% increase.
The budgets in 2011 and 2012 will certainly not have reversed that situation. They are most likely to have made it even worse. It’s not just those on welfare who are suffering. Low to middle income earners have also taken the brunt of the austerity measures.
Michael Taft, an economist the trade union UNITE has looked at figures from Eurostat which compares real tax rates on top incomes in the EU and found that if in Ireland these taxes were at the EU average, and extra €3 billion a year could be raised. If they were set at the level of Sweden, it would be €6 billion.
It’s a simple choice. Either tax wealth and very high incomes, or force austerity onto working people and the poorest. The Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves.”