Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe, to get real when it comes to pay for members of the Defence Forces after it emerged that there has been a huge increase in soldiers and navy personnel getting a Family Income Supplement (FIS) from the Department of Social Protection.
The Sinn Féin TD was responding to information which revealed the number of Defence Force families receiving FIS payments had more than doubled in the last three years.
Family Income Supplement (FIS) is an in-work support, which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children. FIS is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependants and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Recently families of Defence Force members have protested at different barracks across the State to highlight the increasing difficulty they are having in having to pay bills due to their ‘out of touch’ low wages.
“Members of the Defence Forces serve Ireland with great dedication and have been the cause for great pride and celebration for the country due to their excellent record overseas in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts. However, they are also workers doubly disadvantaged because they don’t have the means to fight for better pay and conditions in the way other workers do because they have no effective legal avenue to engage in industrial disputes or access the labour court.
“A new member currently earns just €200 a week, increasing to €350 a week in their second year. The wages do not drastically increase much more after that for ordinary soldiers.
“On these pitifully low wages it is simply impossible in the long term for a parent to feed, clothe, and house a family. That is why families are increasingly being forced to look for further assistance from the State and this can be seen in the number of new applicants FIS. In just three years, the numbers have jumped from 49 in 2013 to 124 in 2016.
“The Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe, needs to get real and deliver a better pay package for these State employees. The sacrifice and commitment of members of the Defence Forces should not be exploited and abused in this manner.
“We cannot continue to treat these people in this way. It is an insult and taking advantage of their hard work and dedication.”
Note: Please see below the PQ detail the figures
Question No: 299 Ref No: 21988-17
To the Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the numbers of Defence Forces personnel that received family income supplement in each of the years 2013 to 2016 and to date in 2017.
– Pat Buckley. Sinn Fein
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 9th May, 2017.
R E P L Y
Minister for Social Protection (Leo Varadkar T.D):
There are currently over 57,000 families with almost 127,000 children in receipt of FIS. The estimated spend on FIS this year is approximately €422 million.
To qualify for FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment, which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount, which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.
According to FIS data as of week ending Fri 6 May 2017 there are currently 117 customers in receipt of FIS recorded under the occupational code covering members of the defence forces.
The figures for families in receipt of FIS for previous years as requested by the Deputy are as follows:
- 2013 = 49
- 2014 = 94
- 2015 = 127
- 2016 = 124
For the purposes of consistency it is important to note that the figures above are based on the amount of families in receipt of FIS at week 52 of the relevant year, as such the figures may go up or down depending on the week in the year.