Political point-scoring does nothing for families still feeling pinch of austerity
SIR, Two years ago we were told that austerity was over but it appears that austerity measures put in place largely continue and are not reversed to any meaningful extent.
The latest example of this surfaced in recent weeks in the discrimination in pension entitlements, which mainly affects women to a greater extent than men as they were the main homemakers who took a break from work to rear families. In any case, women in the home generally suffered greatest during the years of austerity imposition.
Many of these people have been getting up early in the morning from a young age and are now being penalised and discriminated against in our ‘republic of opportunity’ that Leo Varadkar continually refers to. In contrast to that, it is amazing how the pensions of retired politicians and ministers are not affected in the same way, even though some of them may have broken terms of office.
In the midst of this controversy Fianna Fáil politicians are seeking publicity, criticising government policy on this. Of course in the midst of their criticism they have failed to mention that it was their party that became the real anti-mother and anti-family party through their tax individualisation policy that was introduced in the budget of 2000. The consequence of tax individualisation was the introduction of a significant bias in the tax system against families where one spouse – mainly the mother – chose to stay at home and care for the children in the family, care for elderly parents or may have been unable to participate in the workforce for health or other reasons.
That budget had the effect of forcing some mothers into the workplace as it became less financially attractive for them to stay at home to care for their children. It could arguably be said that this was a pander to business interests in order to encourage workplace participation rather than tax reform, as was the way it was sold at the time. It even meant that if a mother was unable to work for whatever reason, she and her family were cruelly penalised to the tune of many thousands of euro depending on each individual situation. That aspect could surely be described as a blatant and savage attack on women, mothers and families.
Of course that system still continues today. It is estimated to be costing average single-income families to the tune of €100 per week and we hear nothing about it from Fianna Fáil or any other political party or politician.
It should be a legitimate social policy for any state to encourage long-term, stable relationships in which children are cared for in their own home by their parents; but Fianna Fáil did not seem to think so at the time, as parents were discouraged from spending time with their children. At the time Fianna Fáil were not concerned with “cherishing children” as one of their campaign slogans suggested.
That policy was a type of social engineering designed to encourage workforce participation through the tax system. It affected all married couples by greatly restricting their freedom to choose whether to leave one spouse in the home. That policy was a grave injustice towards single-income families and it still continues today. Sincerely.
Christy Kelly. Templeglantine.