Celtic Tiger spawned boom in claims for welfare
Even before the financial collapse Ireland was turning into a "welfare nation", according to new figures.
Figures released last week show that the amount of individuals in receipt of single-parent benefit, which costs the exchequer over €1bn, increased by 12 per cent from 2000 to 2006; while disability benefit claims increased by more than 30 per cent in the same period.
Outside of the rise in those claiming unemployment benefits, the latest figures from the Department of Social Welfare also reveal the extent of the massive rise in those claiming rent allowance and the mortgage-interest supplement. Since 2006, 34,000 extra individuals claimed rent allowance at a cost of €170m to the State. And there has been a 500 per cent increase in the number of people claiming mortgage-interest relief.
Department sources said the figures for mortgage interest payments do not represent a true estimate of the current need as more than 1,000 homeowners are being turned down for the benefit each month.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Fine Gael's social affairs spokeswoman Olwyn Enright said: "It is clear a welfare society was quietly evolving during the boom.'' Ms Enright added that there was a need "to change the current system where welfare rather than income is the key into other benefits".
She said: "It is far too complex and makes it too hard for people in work to access benefits like rent supplement or medical cards.''