Independent TD Mattie McGrath has reacted with outrage against the backdrop of a massive reduction in Rent Allowance payments which have been announced by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. The cuts are to come into effect next Monday the 17th June and are due to last to 31st December 2014:
“I am absolutely bewildered by the indiscriminate slashing of the rent allowance payment to nearly every recipient outside of Dublin. It is a casual and brutal attack on the living standards of families and individuals who thought that the Labour Party could do little more to drive them into deepening poverty. The rate has been cut in South Tipperary for a single person from €370pw to €320pw and for a couple with 1 child from €525 to €450. This represents €12pw less for a single person already struggling to survive on minimal welfare payments.”
Minister Burton had already signalled during a Dáil debate last week that more stringent qualifying measures are to be put in place for those who are in receipt of welfare payments. She has been criticised however for failing to adequately realise the impact her policies are having on people on the ground:
“What I think the Minister fails to accept is that there is not a one size fits all approach to welfare issues. In relation to these brutal cuts on rent allowance for example the Minister or her Department seem to have no appreciation that they will undoubtedly drive significant numbers of people into homelessness and worse. Clonmel in particular has a very strong private rental market and it is next to impossible for single people and couples with one child to find suitable accommodation for the prices allowed. I am calling on the Minister to immediately reverse this draconian action and engage with people like community welfare officers all over the country who can see day in and day out the intolerable burdens the cuts that already exist are having. These cuts to rent allowance are the last straw. People who simply have nothing left to give will be forced to deal with landlords who are only prepared to take. There is a social crisis of huge proportions waiting to erupt here,” concluded Deputy McGrath.