Cathaoirleach of Portlaoise Town Council Catherine Fitzgerald has condemned the cuts to the child benefit payment as very unfair, and says wealthy people should not get the payment.
“People who are very well off, I personally believe, shouldn’t be getting it. A straight cut is very unfair, to just cut for people on low incomes, who would have been budgeting it for bills,” she said.
The Fianna Fáil Cllr praised the free preschool year offered to parents.
“We have very bad childcare facilities. The preschool (scheme) is good, I would like to see that extended to two years. Education is going to be the best thing to get us out of this crisis,” she said, speaking during the recent town council meeting.
At the meeting, Sinn Féin Cllr Caroline Dwane heard that her letter to the government requesting a reversal of cuts to child benefit and the respite carers allowance, had gone unanswered.
Cllr Dwane says the money had been used for heating and food.
“The carers grant was €1700 a year, that is cut by €325. That is a lot of money, most carers are on a low income anyway, because they can’t work outside the home. They are devoted 24 seven. They have a huge demand on heating and transport costs, most of that money is used on essentials. To reverse it would only cost €26 million. If those people were in nursing homes it would cost about €1,000 a week,” she said.
The child benefit cuts of €10 for the first two children, and €18 for subsequent children has hit hard she says.
“A lot of people use that for their mortgage, fuel bills, or to put food on the table. People are at their wits’ end, I am asking the government to reverse this, there are lots of other options, for example a third rate of tax for earners over €100,000,” she said.
Her request has been forwarded by the Town Clerk to the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, but no response had yet been received.