Dáil debates

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Ceisteanna - Questions - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

10:50 am

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. My Department regularly engages with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and I hope to meet some of its representatives very soon.

Life in Ireland has changed considerably over the past few months and many people in Ireland are living in very difficult circumstances. This is why my Department quickly rolled out supports like the Covid-19 PUP and, in conjunction with the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners, the temporary wage subsidy as emergency payments to support those most in need. Research undertaken by the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, examined the impact on family incomes of Covid-related job losses and found that 400,000 families would see their disposable income fall by more than 20% in the absence of policy measures such as the PUP. It is important to note that the PUP reduced the numbers exposed to such losses and these measures were also effective in cushioning families at the lower end of the income distribution from such losses.

In addition, the four-week extension of the fuel allowance payment provided over 369,000 households with additional help for their fuel costs. Funding for school meals was made available to schools to the end of the academic year and also for the summer period. The back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance is available to people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment to help them meet the expenses of the new school year.

Tomorrow I will attend my Department's pre-budget forum, at which I will have the chance to speak with groups representing the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society and hear their views on the priorities for the coming budget. This is an important part of the budgetary process and I am looking forward to a good discussion.

I reiterate the Government’s commitment to the rigorous implementation of the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2015. This roadmap provides for a robust governance structure to ensure the implementation of commitments. Progress will be monitored on an ongoing basis through the social inclusion roadmap steering group, which includes two external members, Sister Bernadette MacMahon from the Vincentian Partnership for Justice and Dr. Patricia Keilthy from the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is not my role to establish Oireachtas committees, I can assure him that I will continue to engage with the relevant Oireachtas committees on all matters relating to my Department, including issues relating to poverty and inequality.


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