Labour callously cut Diet Supplement Scheme for low-income people

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on Minister Joan Burton to re-open the Diet Supplement Scheme.

Deputy O’Snodaigh made the call as he questioned the Minister on her decision to close the scheme to new applicants as of February 1st of this year.

The scheme is a social welfare top-up for people who have specific dietary requirements as prescribed by a hospital consultant.

Speaking following the exchange in Dáil, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“This is a quietly carried out attack on poor people living with conditions that can inflate the cost of their diets. It is an additional cost that can push people over the poverty line.

“For many the supplement was the difference between keeping their heads above water and sinking in the pool of austerity for which the government and Fianna Fáil are responsible.

“You have closed the scheme which means that there is zero support for people on low incomes living with these conditions.

“Your closure of the scheme creates a potential poverty trap for those affected.

“Currently recipients will not be immediately affected, however should they move off social welfare, subsequently lose their jobs, they will not be able to regain this vital supplement. It is a payment which makes such a difference to the household budgets of recipients.

“Additionally, people on low incomes cannot avail of tax reliefs, such as the one on gluten free foods, available to those on higher incomes.

“You commissioned the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Report which confirmed that the cost of a gluten free diet can be 33% more expensive than a typical healthy diet and that the cost of a liquidised diet can be 26% more expensive than a typical healthy diet.

“What the Minister should have done is adjust the diet supplement scheme payment rates in light of inflation and additional financial burdens.

“Instead, in a ruthless move, she closed the scheme and abandoned these vulnerable people to the prospect of poverty.

“But then that has been the hallmark of Joan Burton time as Minister for Social Persecution.

“The Minister should have a heart. She should show some compassion for people who find themselves in dire financial straits while also living with these conditions.

“She should reverse this callous decision and re-open the Diet Supplement Scheme.”


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