Labour Minister Joan Burton’s recent remarks, that welfare is becoming a ‘lifestyle choice’ for some people, were disgusting. Labour and Fine Gael want to blame the unemployed for their plight, instead of the bankers, developers and politicians whose greed and incompetence caused the economic crisis.

In reality, the overwhelming majority of those who are now unemployed are people with skills and energy who want to work, but can’t find jobs. Following Budget 2011, an unemployed person over 25 now gets just €188 a week to live on. For those between 22 and 24 the figure is €144. Young people under 22 have just €100 euro to survive on. And Joan Burton is not precluding more cuts to these rates.

In July, Joan Burton announced that the Fuel Allowance was being cut in the cities from €23.90 to €20.00 per month.  The  Household Benefits Package, which gives the elderly, the disabled, and those on carers allowance, a contribution towards their ESB, Gas and telephone, will also be cut from September. Rent Allowance is being cut or cancelled for some claimants’ altogether and  Medical Cards  are being cancelled for people who are only a few euro over the income limit.

We say the best way to lower the social welfare bill is to create real jobs not by terrorising the unemployed.