Yes, the Government has taken a sledge-hammer to the living standards of low and average income earners. But sometimes it’s the little things that expose the venality of policy – the unannounced, below-the-radar, buried-in-a-table-on-page-34-of-an-annex little things.
Last year, when the Government was cutting both social welfare rates and Child Benefit, they increased the Child Dependency Allowances for families on social welfare – to compensate for the loss of Child Benefit. Here’s an example.
Last year, Child Benefit was cut by €16 a month, or €3.69 a week. This affected all families. But to ensure that child income support remained the same, the Government increased Child Dependency Allowances by €3.80 per week.
Okay, the family social welfare got hit by the cut in adult rates – but at least child income support was remained approximately the same. In fact, the Minister for Finance at the time made great play of this:
‘ . . . lower and higher rate of Child Benefit will be reduced by €16 per month, bringing these rates to €150 and €187 per month respectively. Welfare dependent families will be fully compensated by increasing the Qualified Child Allowance by €3.80 per week so that they will not be affected by this measure.’
This year they didn’t do that. The Government cut Child Benefit again – by €10 per month for the first and second children. But, unlike last year, they didn’t compensate families on social welfare. They kept the Child Dependency Allowances the same. This was the effect this year.
This year, not only were adult rates cuts, but child income support was cut as well. Of course, the Minister didn’t refer to this.
In short, last year a family with one child on social welfare saw their income cut by -3.4 percent. This year, they suffered an even worse cut of -4 percent – owing to the Government’s policy of targeting child income support to the lowest income families.
This is all of a piece. The Government gives tax breaks to the highest income groups in society. And then they go after child income support for families living in poverty.
Talk about kicking people when they’re down.
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