An Taoiseach and Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny TD and the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Wicklow Deputy Simon Harris today (Tuesday) launched the party’s plans to support working families by making work pay. The plan included details of a new Working Family Payment, to ensure that every parent working 15 hours or more per week takes home at least €11.75 per hour.
Speaking at an event at Newmarket Kitchen, a food business incubation centre in Bray which hosts 16 start-ups employing a total of 33 people, the Taoiseach said:
“Fine Gael has a long term economic plan with three connected steps: more and better jobs; making work pay; and investment in better services.
“Today we are focusing on working families and making work pay for them. This is because we need to help the high number of jobless households in Ireland which were abandoned by previous Fianna Fáil Governments. Jobless households experience high levels of deprivation and the children in these households are at much greater risk of going on to lead a life of persistent unemployment and low income. Fine Gael believes that a job is the best route out of poverty and that work should pay.
“There are four elements to our plan to help working families:
1. The abolition of the USC and additional PRSI benefits for all working families.
2. Fine Gael will introduce a new ‘Working Family Payment’ to ensure that every parent working 15 hours or more per week takes home at least €11.75 per hour.
3. Fine Gael will increase the minimum wage to €10.50 during the next Government term. We will amend employers’ PRSI to help mitigate the changes to the minimum wage for small businesses.
4. Fine Gael will target welfare traps in housing, healthcare and childcare that make it unaffordable to return to work.
“Even before the recession, Ireland had a far higher level of jobless households than other similar countries. This is because of Fianna Fáil’s abysmal record on social welfare and on low income families. Intergenerational poverty and welfare dependency became a way of life under Fianna Fáil Governments. Fianna Fáil have not learned the lessons of their past mistakes and still have no plan to help the long term unemployed back into jobs, which will threaten our recovery.
“Fine Gael is a party that supports work and workers. We want to see people independent in work, not dependent on welfare. To do this we will continue the transformation of our passive welfare system into an active employment service that works with people to get them into jobs. Fine Gael will put the unemployed at the front of the queue for new jobs as we work to add another 200,000 jobs to the economy. That is why more jobs and making work pay are central parts of our Long Term Economic Plan to keep the recovery going.”