Independent TD, Thomas Pringle, says the social welfare system is in need of major overhaul.
He added the Social Welfare Bill does not go far enough for people in need.
Addressing the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Pringle said he believed the budget was clearly not designed to target people most in need.
“This is very clearly proven in the decision to give everyone in the country, including ourselves, a €600 energy credit. This is far from a targeted approach,” Deputy Pringle said.
Speaking on the Social Welfare Bill 2022, the deputy said: “The increases included in this bill do very little to protect the vulnerable in our society during this cost-of-living crisis. We all know that one-off, lump sum payments do very little in adequately addressing people’s financial needs.”
He called on the government to stop putting the emphasis on lump sum payments and meagre welfare increases year after year.
“We need to pay social welfare recipients sufficiently.
“Many recipients in my constituency of Donegal have told me they are struggling to put food on the table each week and to pay their electricity bills each month. It is absolutely devastating and this legislation doesn’t go far enough for these people. It is clear that the social welfare system as a whole is in desperate need of major overhaul.”
He also asked the Minister to scrap any ideas of creating a tiered social welfare system.
“I know that the Minister plans on bringing a proposal to Cabinet by Christmas, detailing changes to the social welfare system.
“I absolutely agree that many changes are needed to the social welfare system in this country, however the suggestion that higher earners could get larger social welfare payments if they lose their jobs is a very dangerous one. I would urge the minister to ensure that extensive consultation is allowed for any proposed changes to the system, as this is a system which supports the most vulnerable in our society.
“It cannot be allowed to turn into yet another system which favours top earners and values their contribution over the contribution of everyone in our society,” he said.
While he believed the bill goes ‘some way’ to temporarily assisting those in need, it doesn’t take any real steps to adequately address people’s needs or keep people out of poverty.
“One in ten people are experiencing food poverty in this country. One in nine people in Donegal are experiencing food poverty.
“What, Minister, will this legislation do about that?” he asked.