IT is scandalous that children over 18, who are in education and costing parents huge amounts of money, are not even entitled to child benefit, Deputy Michael Collins told the Dáil.
Speaking during a debate on the Social Welfare Bill, he said it is a huge financial burden for many families. ‘Second level education is very expensive and the back-to-school allowance does not extend far enough to cover the year-long costs that face older students, especially as many might need additional classes or grinds in the Leaving Certificate cycle,’ he said.
Another matter that comes under the Minister’s brief and which should be discussed is the death benefit, he said. ‘It is a huge issue for many families at a very difficult time. I and other deputies get a huge number of calls when somebody has lost a loved one in the family asking whether there is some form of benefit to pay off the funeral bill.
‘It was a savage and brutal cut for many families and it must be addressed.’
The treatment of people on social welfare in this country is becoming appalling, he said. ‘Somebody rang me the other day after going to see a community welfare officer in West Cork,’ he said. ‘The person came out of the meeting crying. They are no longer community welfare officers but community “get rid of you” officers. The Minister must stand by the people. She must stand up to these people and accept that some people are in difficult circumstances and that in some rural areas, there is not as much employment as there is in the bigger cities. There is an assumption that people must get off welfare, but that is not good enough.’