SVP concerned Covid-19 social protection measures won’t reach those in Longford already living in poverty
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has welcomed the increase in the Covid-19 payment but is concerned that individuals and families in Longford already living in poverty will be left struggling even more without additional supports.
SVP Head of Social Justice, Dr. Tricia Keilthy said, “The increase in the new emergency payment is very much welcome. If it is combined with an adequate and accessible form of rent supplement, many individuals and families will be prevented from falling into poverty in the coming weeks.”
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The payment is available to newly unemployed persons affected by Covid-19 related business closures. There was no announcement to increase the rate of Jobseekers allowance, Pensions, Disability payment and Child payments.
“People in receipt of social welfare and living below the poverty line will be faced with additional energy, food and healthcare costs during the crisis, yet there are no additional income measures to support them. People in poverty are more likely to be in poor health, have a disability, or to be caring for others, so it is vital additional supports are provided during the crisis to keep them afloat”, said Dr. Keilthy.
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SVP commended the swift action of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and their frontline staff who are working non-stop to meet the increased demand for income supports. However, the charity says more needs to be done to protect individuals and families falling further into poverty.
Their recommendations include:
* A temporary top-up payment to the poorest children (€30 per week for children over 12 and €15 per week for children under 12) to help families with the
additional costs of food, heating, educational resources and indoor social activities associated with school closures. (Estimated cost: €81m for 12 weeks)
* Extension of the Fuel Allowance period to the end of April (Estimated cost: €27 million)
* A double social welfare payment to help households on limited weekly incomes to purchase the supplies they need during Covid-19 restrictions. (Estimated cost: €279 million)
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SVP National President, Kieran Stafford said “In the coming weeks, we expect to see an increased demand for our support as families find themselves in financial stress and hardship.
"We will be here to respond to those who request our help but it is important that sufficient preventative measures are put in place so that families don’t fall deeper into poverty.
"Taking the right steps now, will reduce demands on supports and services in future."