Via The Irish Examiner:
The Irish Examiner spoke to a number of women who say that unannounced visits to their homes while on lone-parent payments made them feel “worthless”.
They claim that while on the single parent payment, they were told that if they entered a relationship they would lose the payment, and inspectors would come to their homes unannounced, searching each room, sometimes opening wardrobes looking for men’s clothes and questioning them about cars parked outside.
….One major concern about such inspections is that the inspectors almost always attend houses on their own and the women they visit are often unaware of their rights and vulnerable due to lack of income and support. The inspector’s report of the visit and living situation is sent to a presiding officer who oversees approval.
Social assistance rates in 2021
Independent think-tank Social Justice Ireland published its critique of Budget 2021.
Adoption of a counter-cyclical fiscal stance.
Financing for the Community Health Networks
Acknowledgement by Government that tax and welfare are a single system..
Providing the finance to implement the McMahon Report and end Direct Provision.
Failure to increase core social welfare rates.
Failure to make tax credits refundable to address the working poor issue.
No progress towards just taxation
Dr Seán Healy, Director, Social Justice Ireland, writes::
“Budget 2021 has left Ireland’s poorest people behind as Government decided not to increase core social welfare rates.
Despite allocating more resources than any previous Budget in the history of the State, the distribution of those resources was such that the gap between the poor and the better off will widen in 2021 and inequality will increase. This is a totally unacceptable outcome.
“In calculating how people’s incomes will change in 2021 it is important to realise that people with jobs are likely to see increases in their take-home pay in the coming year. Public servants will see an increase of 2% while the pay of other sectors is also expected to increase. In contrast to that, people on core social welfare payments depend on the Budget alone to increase their incomes”
Dublin Airport departures at Terminal 2 last month
Undertaking essential work travel out of Dublin airport and there’s presumably government staff with clipboards asking passengers for their PPS number and if they’re in receipt of social welfare payments.
— Feargal O’Connell (@Feargalll) July 1, 2020
Also I was asked for a letter at check in from employer to prove essential nature of my travel. https://t.co/hjFpAuPO1b
— Feargal O’Connell (@Feargalll) July 1, 2020
Cork Street, Dublin.
Intreo Empoyment and Incomes Support office. It has been reported that 68,000 people have been turned down for the emergency Covid-19 pandemic unemployment benefit payments. Some have been left with no support for more than a month.
Reasons for refusal include that applicant may ‘already be on jobseeker’s allowance, they were not working immediately prior to the lockdown or had provided incorrect PPS or bank account numbers’.
From top: Social Welfare office; RTÉ Montrose; Sean O’Rourke (above left) and Paddy O’Gorman
A 100 per cent “Christmas Bonus” social welfare payment is paid to all recipients of long-term social welfare payments.
In light of this, there was an item about this payment on RTÉ Radio One Today with Seán O’Rourke with Paddy O’Gorman earlier today, during which Mr O’Gorman chatted to some people who were receiving it.
Further to this..
Frances Byrne tweetz:
It’s ‘double social welfare week’ according to Today with Seán O’Rourke and there’ll be a Paddy O’Gorman piece this morning with people receiving this annual payment.
I’ve tweeted before about these radio pieces which usually take place at welfare or post offices, or outside District Courts or prisons.
Why somebody in RTÉ thinks these reports are a good idea is completely beyond me.
Somebody, somewhere in our national broadcaster thinks that the only places you’ll find poor/working class people are when they’re collecting their welfare payment or outside a court or prison.
In the latter case, having themselves committed a crime or visiting someone who has.
Maybe they also think these pieces are the only way to include poor/working class people on the media.
That this is how a public service broadcaster ‘does’ inclusion.
I am an avid radio listener (and I believe it’s vital that Ireland has a well-supported public service broadcaster).
But I have never, ever heard a regular piece on Irish radio or television which tells us about the tax breaks received by middle class people. Why?
There are ways those of us with good incomes benefit from various breaks and very wealthy people can avail of myriad of write-offs etc.
Where’s the focus on this? Why is one group singled out while everyone else gets off the hook?
Why are poor/working class people seen as ‘other’ and therefore deserving of this level of scrutiny & only in the aforementioned places?
It’s very concerning and is part of a much wider problem across the Irish media which reinforces stereotypes about welfare, crime and taxation.
John Douglas of the Mandate trade union coined the phrase ‘Solidarity Payment’ for the so-called Christmas Bonus. He was right. That’s how all social welfare should be described.
A decent society should be proud of its publicly-funded safety net and those who need it shouldn’t be shamed.
P.S. It’s on. Paddy only met lone parents on this occasion. And is allowing himself to ask why they didn’t use contraception. And judging them for buying expensive toys for their children. My blood is now BOILING.
Listen back in full here
From top: Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty; Then Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar at the launch of a new campaign urging the public to ‘blow the whistle in wellfare fraud’ on April 17, 2017
Welfare’s fraud numbers are implausible by any stretch of the imagination – the publication of dodgy figures the day before the PSC report is published is downright dishonest https://t.co/AblMDZiw1u
— Fred Logue (@FredPLogue) September 17, 2019
The ‘anti-fraud’ measures being trumpeted by the Department of Social Protection are primarily concerned with augmenting the Department’s capabilities in surveillance and punishment, not fraud reduction. Fraud reduction is the pretext, not the goal.
— Richard (@hiredknave) September 17, 2019
I smile at this shite when government lines vultures pockets & presided over worst homeless/housing crisis in our history. Squanders hundreds of millions more on children’s-hospital & possibly a billion more on broadband https://t.co/INe1gl2zCn
— David Hall (@davidhall75) September 16, 2019
Seems to be going well.
— welfare.ie (@welfare_ie) April 29, 2019
A new social insurance benefit scheme for the self-employed from this November.
The Jobseekers Benefit (Self-Employed) will support those who lose their self-employment and are covered by social insurance.
The new benefit will be paid for 9 months for people with 260 or more self-employment PRSI contributions paid…It will be paid for 6 months for people with fewer than 260 self–employment PRSI contributions paid…
Peter Casey at Dublin Castle on Saturday
‘…While his detractors worked themselves into a frenzy over his comments about Travellers, it was his remarks about Ireland becoming a welfare state and his expression of sympathy for “people who pay for everything and get nothing in return” that really struck a chord with voters.
That message is similar to one we have been preaching for some time. It is why we backed Mr Varadkar as a future leader of Fine Gael as soon as he presented himself as an alternative to the suffocating consensus that was slowly killing robust political debate.
Not any more. Mr Varadkar has become yet another social democrat, and left those on the centre right without a party to represent their interests.
Fine Gael strategists would be unwise to dismiss Mr Casey’s vote as an aberration. The businessman’s campaign was shambolic and his public utterances were often bumbling, incomprehensible even, but by actually speaking his mind he managed to breach the stultifying political correctness that sanitises most statements made by our career politicians.
Sir Anthony O’Reilly used to quip that a gap in the market was not enough to create a business; there had to be a market in the gap. Mr Casey has found the gap. Now, is there a party up to the task of exploiting it?’
Editorial, Sunday Times Ireland edition (behind paywall)
— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) October 28, 2018
Hey @UlsterBank_Help are there more problems with your systems? We are receiving reports that #childbenefit isn’t in people’s accounts this morning. This is causing huge stress for our members. Many members desperately relying on this payment today after #Back2school costs. pic.twitter.com/V8QQOhnhRx
— SPARK-Ireland (@SparkIreland) October 2, 2018
AIB is in. Pstb and Ulster payments not in. Real panic today for people depending on it to top up electricity meters, but lunches etc. Hope you get sorted soon.
— SPARK-Ireland (@SparkIreland) October 2, 2018
It’s happening too often. We are being pushed into a cashless society yet systems are failing too often and leaving people high and dry. Less than 2 weeks ago @UlsterBank_Help were called before finance committee for same issues
— SPARK-Ireland (@SparkIreland) October 2, 2018
— Rachel McGuire (@rach0811) October 2, 2018
The Department is aware that a widespread bank payments issue is affecting some social welfare payments due into customer accounts today. The Banks are working to resolve the issue and we will continue to monitor the situation & provide updates throughout the day. #paymentupdate
— welfare.ie (@welfare_ie) October 2, 2018
From top: Independent TD Paul Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
During Leaders’ Questions in the Dail.
Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy recalled the “Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All” campaign previously launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Readers will recall how at the launch of the campaign, Mr Varadkar – then Minister for Social Protection and not leader of Fine Gael – stated a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection saved taxpayers more than €500million in 2016.
The campaign was later referred to as a ‘mistake’ by the Secretary General of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection John McKeon.
Mr Murphy also spoke about JobPath.
Following on from this, Mr Varadkar spoke about welfare fraud and criticised the “hard left”, again.
Paul Murphy: “‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ you said, Taoiseach, in a campaign now universally recognised as being based on false figures which your own department questioned. You cynically used public money to enhance your appeal to Fine Gael members.
“That campaign may now be largely forgotten but the agenda behind it remains. It was more than just a dog whistle campaign for votes. It was part of an ideological assault on social welfare…”
“140,000 unemployed people have been turned into opportunities for profit for private companies. In the process without significant debate the provision of social welfare has been partially privatised. I’ve spoken to a number of people who’ve been through JobPath, they say they’re not given any real training, they’re just supervised while looking for jobs on a computer meaning that it’s pointless travel for many, they describe it as demeaning, as patronising, as infantalising.
“And what hangs over all of their interactions with private companies is the threat of having their social welfare cut by more than €40, leaving people to try to survive on €150, or less, a week.
“Since JobPath has been introduced, the number of people who have had these so-called penalty rates applied has increased from 5,000 in 2015 to 16,000 last year. That is in one year alone. Some 6,500 JobPath participants have had their dole cut.
“On the other hand, €84 million of public money has been paid to just two companies, SeeTec and Turas Nua. They get money each time someone signs a personal progression plan and they get paid job sustainment fees.
“Both SeeTec and Working Links, which is one of two companies behind Turas Nua, have been accused of fraud in the operation of similar schemes in Britain. Last October in the Dáil, Deputy Catherine Murphy raised a very serious case of fraud by SeeTec in Ireland.
“All of that has been justified up until now on the false basis that the system works and gets people into employment. That has now been completely exposed by the Government’s own figures which came out three weeks ago. Only 18% of those who engage in JobPath end up in full-time employment.
“Some €84 million has been given to these private companies to get people jobs which they would have got themselves. Will the Taoiseach now read the writing on the wall for JobPath? Will he agree that the scheme needs to be scrapped and that instead of handing money over to private companies, he should invest in proper education and training and in real jobs for unemployed people?”
Leo Varadkar: “Welfare fraud is very real. And it is a real problem in this country and in every western society. Even if we take the lowest estimate of the scale of welfare fraud in this country, it is about €40 million a year. That is a lot of money in my view. Let us not forget that people who engage in welfare fraud are not the poor and vulnerable. They are people who are pretending to be poor and vulnerable. They are people who are working and claiming.
“They are people who are working, not paying their taxes on that work, and also claiming welfare at the same time. I do not believe that is defensible or acceptable. There are people who are pretending to have a disability they do not have or pretending to care for someone for whom they are not caring.
“People are claiming to be somebody they are not to claim pensions for people who are long dead. It really disappoints me to hear left-wing politicians in this country constantly defending fraudsters as though they are entitled to the benefits that they are stealing. They are not — to prevent and crack down on welfare fraud in any way we can.
“One only needs to look at the court reports every other day to see the detail of some of those cases and what people have been doing to defraud our system. The reason we cracked down on welfare fraud is not ideological. The reason is that fraud is wrong, whether it is tax fraud or welfare fraud, and we act against it.
“In doing so, we ensure that the welfare budget is protected for those who are entitled to it, including our pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, the unemployed, lone parents, blind people, widows and others. As a result we have been able to increase in two budgets in a row the State pension, payments to carers, payments to people with disabilities and payments to people who are unemployed. It is Government policy to crack down on welfare fraud in order to protect the welfare budget for those who need and deserve it, particularly pensioners, the disabled, carers and people who are unemployed.
“I am very disappointed to hear politicians on the left continuously equivocating on this issue and not condemning welfare fraud. I note that the Deputy did not do so on this occasion. Tackling unemployment is one of the areas in which everyone acknowledges we have seen a real turnaround in recent years.
“Unemployment peaked at 15% and is now down at approximately 6%. Long-term unemployment is down to 3%. That is not just because of a recovering economy. Unlike many recoveries, we saw unemployment fall rapidly once our recovery started. That is not the norm in recoveries. There is usually a lag. The reason unemployment fell very rapidly in Ireland once the recovery started is the kind of active policies in which the Government engaged both on the enterprise and welfare sides.
“Had we listened to the Deputy and had we pursued the policies which he advocated, which have been attempted in Greece, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and other countries, not only would we have mass unemployment, but we would have a mass refugee exodus from this country similar to the current exodus from Venezuela to Colombia.”
Murphy: “It is like Deputy Enda Kenny is back. The Taoiseach managed not to answer the question at all. Instead he attacked something which I did not say and then went on an ideological attack about Venezuela. I think he might have even referenced Colombia and Greece.
Varadkar: “Colombia is where the refugees are.”
Murphy: “Let us go back to the question. The question is on the Government’s JobPath scheme, which has failed in its stated aim of getting jobs for people. That is what the facts now demonstrate. Only 18% of participants get jobs, which is no higher than the rate for people who do not have access to JobPath. These companies have been accused of fraud in Britain. What is the Taoiseach doing to make sure that they are not engaged in fraud here? To deal with the curveball which the Taoiseach has thrown, which is that he will stand over and double down on his rhetoric about welfare fraud, the Taoiseach gave the figure of €40 million two minutes ago, but his advertising campaign said €500 million. Which is it? Who is engaged in fraud here?
Mattie McGrath: “It is the spin machine.”
Murphy: “The Taoiseach is engaged in fraud against unemployed people and is using public money to demonise them in order to drive precarious employment. He is continuing in that same Thatcherite vein here. Will he please answer the question asked in respect of JobPath?”
Varadkar: “I said that even the lowest estimate is €40 million. I note the Deputy has not refuted that.”
Eoin Ó Broin: “What is the actual figure?”
Varadkar: “The figure of €500 million was what it said on the tin, that is fraud and control. Fraud and control. They are two different things.”
Pearse Doherty: “It was the Department’s Brexit bus.”
Varadkar: “On the whole issue of JobPath, we must look at the counterfactual analysis. People who are long-term unemployed can be referred down a number of different routes. They can have assistance through the Intreo service provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; they can be assisted through JobPath, which is outsourced to two companies; or they can be referred to bodies such as local employment schemes, for example. It is interesting to compare counterfactually how people perform under those different headings. There is a complaints procedure in place. If participants feel that they are not getting a proper service from JobPath, they can make a complaint directly to the company. If they are not satisfied with the response, they can go to the Department and make a complaint through its procedures.”
McGrath: “They would be wasting their time.”
Varadkar: “It is important to note how the companies are paid. They get a registration fee per client referred to them but after that they only get paid if the person gets a full-time job and sustains it. The incentive is there for the companies not just to get people into any old job, but to get them into full-time jobs which they can sustain for more than 13 weeks. The longer the person keeps that job, the more the company gets paid. Its strength is in its results. Unemployment is now falling below 6% and long-term unemployment is now below 3%.
Murphy: “The Government’s own figures dispute that.”
Varadkar: “Where would we be today if the policies of the hard left had been followed in this country?”
Murphy: “We would not have vulture funds dealing with public banks.”
Varadkar: “There would be mass unemployment and mass emigration.”
Previously: Populist Chancer Cheats Us All