Emerald Voices Rise: Irish Rural Link Demands a Boost in Social Welfare Payments

“Irish Rural Link Urges Government to Boost Social Welfare Payments in Budget 2024”

Irish Rural Link (IRL) is urging the government to increase core social welfare payments by a minimum of €25 per week in Budget 2024. Representing the interests of rural communities, IRL will attend the Department of Social Protection’s pre-budget forum today at Farmleigh House in Dublin. In addition to this, the group is calling for a 50% increase in the fuel allowance to assist low-income households with the rising cost of fuel.

According to IRL, over 5% of the population is currently living in consistent poverty, which marks an increase from the previous year. The government has set a target to reduce consistent poverty to 2% by 2025. IRL emphasizes that social welfare payments and support for those in low-income jobs must be increased to ensure that people have a sufficient income to afford a minimum standard of living and to achieve the 2% target.

While the one-off payments announced in Budget 2023 were welcomed, they only helped low-income households cover some of their bills. IRL emphasizes that Budget 2024 must introduce proper financial support for social welfare recipients and others on low incomes, in order to lift them out of poverty rather than pushing more people into it.

In addition, IRL argues that there should be no further increase in excise duty for petrol and diesel in Budget 2024. They highlight that households on low incomes in rural areas face higher living costs compared to their urban counterparts, primarily due to higher transportation expenses. Most households in rural areas require at least one car, and in many cases, two. IRL also notes that reducing the grant for electric vehicles (EVs) may discourage people from switching to EVs in rural areas.

IRL emphasizes that an adequate income is necessary to lift people out of poverty, but access to essential services is equally important. They argue that investment in public transport and local link services is crucial for a sustainable future for all members of society. Currently, people in rural areas have limited or no choice when it comes to public transport, which further marginalizes and excludes vulnerable groups from fully participating in society.