Austerity evictions and the Department of Social Protection
The following is an extract from the Mission Statement of the Department of Social Protection taken from the Department website.
“Our mission is to promote a Caring Society through ensuring access to income support and other services:
• Enabling Active Participation
• Promoting Social Inclusion
• Supporting Families.
The statement continues;
• We recognise the need for fairness and mutual respect.
• We pride ourselves in our ability to respond to challenges in a Flexible and Creative manner.”
Last Friday, I received a letter from the Department of Social Protection stating as follows;
"If you are unable to negotiate a reduction in rent with your landlord, you will need to source alternative accommodation at or below the relevant maximum limit. Rent supplement will cease at 30th June 2012." This decision is the diktat of an impassive and heartless administration, with any possibility of appeal denied.(Not a direct quote from the Department)
The relevant maximum limit for my family for accommodation in Galway as set out by the Department is €700 Euro per calendar month. This figure has been arrived at in an arbitrary manner and does not reflect the cost of rent in Galway city. There are currently no properties available in the city at this price which would allow our children to continue to attend their national school. So I am left with no alternative but to leave the city where my children were born, uproot them from school, from their friends, from their parish and community that they belong to. (Financing the cost of moving has been left to my discretion).
However, every cloud has a silver lining. Our Labour/ Fine Gael Government and the Department of Social Protection may congratulate themselves with the knowledge that they will have saved €34.62 for every week that my family remains dependant on social welfare. This money can then be given directly to the bondholders who gambled their fortunes with our irresponsible and unregulated bankers, along with the promise that more money will follow as every social support is dismantled. In these austere days the many must make sacrifices to benefit the few, and my children will doubtless bear their pain with equanimity, I will do my utmost to dissociate in their minds the concepts of perfidy and betrayal from the parties of the present Government.
This is not just the story of one family. These eviction notices have been delivered to many homes in Galway city this past week, and will continue. Galway has been chosen as the beach head for this latest austerity assault. Every social welfare dependant living in rented accommodation throughout the country may wait in fearful expectation for the morning post. Perhaps our Labour/Fine Gael government has as its long term goal the ghettoisation of the unemployed and their families in the archipelago of ghost estates that litter the countryside. As the electorate prepare to write more austerity into law who knows what ultimately lies ahead? In the mean time the Department of Social Destruction should surely review its mission statement.
The bitter irony for my family is that my wife and myself voted a Labour President and a Labour/Fine Gael Government into office.
(Name and address with editor)