LABOUR PARTY County Councillor Jimmy Harte has slammed the budget claiming hundreds of students across Inishowen will be directly hit in the pocket as a result.
Colr Harte said the budget dramatically reduced the proportion of students qualifying for the ‘non-adjacent’ rate of student maintenance grant by changing qualifying criteria from 24km to 45km.
And he says hundreds of students across Inishowen attending Letterkenny Institute of Technology will be left out of pocket.
“Up until yesterday, any student who qualified for a maintenance grant, and whose family address was more that 24km from their campus, would receive the full amount of €3250.
“Now, thanks to Fianna Fail, only those whose family address is 45km or more from the college, will qualify for full payment . The maximum that anybody else can receive will be €1250,” he fumed.
He added the LYIT is so important to the future development of education and skills in the Donegal area in providing sustainable employment for the county.
“What it means is that payment to thousands of families who live between 24 and 45km from their child’s place of education will be slashed by 62 per cent.
“ This will be devastating for working families who have already been subjected to increases in taxes, hikes in charges and reductions in services, as a result of this budget
“Essentially the government is penalising parents who have done the right thing by ensuring that their children make it to third level. In what way is this equitable Minister? In what way is this fair?
He added that it was time for this lame-duck Government, which has no mandate, to go once and for all.
Meanwhile a federation of charities and support groups in Donegal have united to condemn plans to cut the minimum wage by €1 – and vowed to fight the cuts on the streets.
In a joint statement from a wide variety of groups – including UNITE, SIPTU, Women’s Aid, Migrant Rights, Age Action, Cairde, Irish Rural Link and the Youth Council among others – the new grouping said people would fight the proposals.
“It appears that the government, in what can only be considered as a deeply undemocratic and unjust move, will attempt to legislate for a €1 cut to the minimum wage over the coming days,” they said.
The statement went on: “This will most likely happen in the form of an amendment tacked on to legislation such as the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No.2) Bill, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No.2) Bill or other legislation to be rushed through in the coming days.
“The manner in which the cut to the minimum wage is apparently to be legislated for is seriously flawed and undermines democratic principles of accountability and process. Rushing a decision by including this in other legislation will deny TDs the right to properly consider and debate this critical issue.
“There is no rationale for this draconian move other than the obvious intent of this government to embed a low-waged labour market strategy, and to ensure that the ‘race to the bottom’ is actively facilitated.
“Approximately 5% of the working population survives on an income of €8.65 per hour. Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are hell bent on pushing the poorest paid workers in this country deeper into poverty. Ordinary people know that generating greater security and stability in society and in our economy can only really be achieved by a bottom-up approach, i.e. by protecting low paid workers. We, to our detriment, know that the approach of protecting those at the top does not work in society’s favour.
“Cutting the minimum wage at this time will not only hurt workers surviving on a shoestring but will also damage consumer spending and the economy. It will not generate any new jobs, nor will it help to reduce the government deficit.
“It will disproportionately impact on women, who represent six out of ten minimum wage workers, and will substantially increase the gender pay gap. Young people will also be disproportionately hit by such a move.
“This government does have other options to address the constraints being faced by small and medium enterprises, such as tackling the fixed costs that are crippling businesses.
“We refuse to accept that this unnecessary and savage attack on the lowest paid will be allowed to become law in this country. The public at large is appalled by the announcement that this was the government’s intention. There is a threshold of decency that we will not allow our society to cross.”