Saturday 22 October 2016

FF planning to pay €188 in social welfare to everyone

Fianna Fail welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea Photo: Tom Burke

Fianna Fail is to promise every citizen of the country - from the richest to the poorest - a minimum social welfare income of €188 per week.

The pledge will come in the party's election manifesto, and they insist it would be "a red line issue" in any prospective coalition negotiations.

The party will undertake to set up an expert group to report within six months on matters like how much the minimum payment would be and what kind of taxation changes would be needed to fund it.

The basic minimum income would be billed as a major protection against poverty in an era where few will be guaranteed work throughout their lives.

Any income earned above the minimum welfare payment would be taxed at a single new rate - which would also have to be fixed, but, ideally, somewhere around 25pc.

There are no detailed costings available as yet for the plan, but total spending on all welfare transfers stand at about €30bn.

The party will also argue that many sections of the population already receive considerable welfare payments, such as pensions or child benefit, which would be factored into the minimum income - making the final cost not vastly greater than current welfare spending.

Fianna Fail welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea argued that a move to minimum income would be a very radical anti-poverty measure, which would provide a safety net at a time when the nature of work is vastly changed and fragmented.

"There is a growing body of work that proposes a system of basic income, such as this, as an important part of a modern welfare system," he said.

"Fianna Fail is committed to building a system of welfare and taxation appropriate for a just and equal developed Ireland in the 21st century," Mr O'Dea added.

Mr O'Dea said that measure is already a "long way there already in practice" citing the existing child benefit and state pension among other payments.

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