Senator Katherine Zappone today criticised proposed changes to the One Parent Family Payment and the Mortgage Interest Supplement contained in the Social Welfare Bill during the debate on the Bill in the Seanad.
The Senator is opposing changes to the One Parent Family Payment which mean that by 2015 One Parent Families, if fit for work, will be reclassified as ‘jobseekers’ when their youngest child reaches 7 years of age.
Senator Zappone said, “Minister, as you well know the reality is that we do not have a ‘system’ of childcare in this country, that we failed families during the boom years when the resources were actually there to introduce such a ‘system’. We now do not have the resources – we are in the age of ‘austerity.’ This is a fact. Given this reality your promise to obtain a ‘bankable’ commitment from government (and the dictionary defines ‘bankable’ as ‘acceptable to a bank’!) is simply not adequate. Are we to proceed to pass law based on trust rather than certainty?”
Senator Zappone went on to criticise changes to the earnings disregard for recipients of the One Parent Families Payment introduced in the Social Welfare Act 2011,
“The Minister for Social Protection has an imaginative vision for reform and I praise her for this, but the changes proposed are heading in the opposite direction of this vision. The impact of these two pieces of legislation could be to legalise an increase in poverty. I don’t understand why the Minister does not reverse these regressive changes while there is still time. The legislation will be debated again next week.”
On the issue of the Mortgage Interest Supplement Senator Zappone said, “No proposals to further limit the Mortgage Interest Supplement should be enacted, until an overall package of supports is available to ensure the protection of borrowers who have the capacity to remain in their homes with appropriate targeted support. The proposed changes, without such supports, will no doubt have the effect of abolishing the Mortgage Interest Supplement in everything but name.”
Notes to Editor:
The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill is being debated in the Seanad today, Friday 27th and Monday 30th of April.
Dr. Katherine Zappone is a member of the Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees).