Martin to get tough on social welfare costs with cuts of €3bn
A tough programme of reform to reduce the cost of social welfare across the board by €3bn by 2014 is to be revealed by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin in his party's manifesto tomorrow.
The wide-ranging plan aims to have:
- A hard look at the child benefit schemes which will either have to be means tested or reduced.
- A rationalisation of the system whereby one person can draw from several social funds, such as disability payments, job seekers' allowance and one parent family payments.
- Where these overlap, one payment only will be made, which may be smaller than what the recipient gets at present.
- A determined labour activity scheme where people on social protection will have to provide direct evidence of looking for a job before they can go on the dole.
- A crackdown on social welfare fraud, saving €500m in the first year and €1.5bn over three years.
In addition, support schemes will be introduced to enable people to gain work experience as a step towards rejoining the labour force.
"Our aim is to get social welfare costs down and introduce control measures to reduce the budget," Mr Martin told the Sunday Independent.
"Attacking fraud is an important aspect and also an efficient rationalisation of the situation whereby people can make a career out of exploiting social welfare."
He added: "Where such people might be getting three payments, it is our aim that they should be getting one single payment which may be smaller, may be the same but certainly won't be bigger."
As the biggest spending department the Department of Social Protection's budget for 2011 is a massive €20.9bn.
Fianna Fail ministers have said that it is not possible to stabilise and reduce public spending without any impact on the department and its huge budget.
Already in 2011 savings within the department will mean €760m in cuts, as well as another €100m from what are called labour activation measures.