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Community and Voluntary Pillar makes breakthrough on Rent Supplement issue 2004

2004, February 9: Community and Voluntary Pillar of Social Partners makes breakthrough on Rent Supplement issue

The Community and Voluntary Pillar of Social Partners has made significant progress at a meeting with the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Coughlan TD on the issue of Rent Supplement.

The Pillar secured Ministerial support for a process under social partnership to review the implementation of cuts announced in the Government Estimates, including Rent Supplement, and to actively examine how this scheme can be reformed.

The changes in the Budgetary Estimates last November attracted considerable criticism from organisations within the Community and Voluntary Pillar, other social partners and other bodies. The Pillar’s proposal to resolve the issue would ensure that the most vulnerable are protected while ideas for reform are developed.

The Community and Voluntary Pillar’s proposal is for a group of high level officials from the relevant Government Departments and interested Social Partners to review the implementation of the cuts to protect those most at risk, in particular the change in eligibility for Rent Allowance. The group would also actively examine how Rent Supplement can be reformed. The group would include the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Department of the Taoiseach, alongside other interested Social Partners including the Community and Voluntary Pillar and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

As well as the Rent Supplement issue, the Pillar expressed concern at the meeting regarding cuts in other areas, including the Back to Education Allowance, payment for lone parents moving from welfare to work and the crèche supplement for emergency childcare.

In making its proposal, the Pillar invoked a key section of the current Social Partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress (Section 1.7) which commits Government to engagement with the Social Partners in wider policy areas. The Pillar’s proposal would ensure the integrity of the social partnership process in this area.

‘We are still very much concerned with the possible outcome of the Social Welfare cuts announced in the Book of Estimates for 2004. However, Ministerial support for the Pillar’s proposal is a very positive step, an indication that Government is serious about its commitment to ensure that vulnerable people are not further disadvantaged. There is real potential here for Government to show it is serious about solving problems like this through the social partnership process’, stated Dónall Geoghegan of the National Youth Council of Ireland, on behalf of the Pillar.

The Community and Voluntary Pillar of Social Partners consists of:

Age Action Ireland, 
Carers Association, 
Children’s Rights Alliance, 
Congress Centres for the Unemployed, 
CORI Justice Commission, 
Disability Federation of Ireland, 
Irish Council for Social Housing, 
Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed, 
Irish Rural Link, 
Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, 
National Association of Building Co-operatives, 
National Youth Council of Ireland, 
Protestant Aid, 
Society of St Vincent de Paul, 
The Wheel.