“Where’s the joined up thinking as the Government fails to, once again, considers knock-on effects of its decisions,” asked Scartaglin based Deputy Tom Fleming this week as he points out that the recent rise in the minimum wage has hit vital, charitable organisations with increased wage bills.
“It means that, while welcome, the increase in the minimum wage has left community services throughout Ireland with significant funding shortfalls.
“A pivotal charitable service in Kerry which provides meals on wheels to the elderly, as well as to those who are physically and mentally impaired, is under serious threat as a result of the Government’s decision to increase the minimum wage,” he said.
Deputy Fleming, Independent TD for Kerry is one who could find himself in a position of considerable bargaining power if elected to the 32nd. Dáil after this spring’s general election.
He has called on Government to exercise ‘joined up thinking’ in relation to how community and not-for-profit services are affected by increased operating costs due to the increase in the minimum wage to €9.15 per hour which came into effect in early January.
According to Deputy Fleming, Cumann Iosaef Community Centre in Tralee is one such service which is struggling to cope with the knock on effect of increased wages to their running costs.
“This is a vital service on which 600 people rely on per week. They manage their modest budget on a week-to-week basis with no surplus due to the increased demand on their service, and simply cannot afford to absorb an additional wage cost of €847 per month. In a full year, this amounts to €10,175, a shortfall that significantly affects the future of the service.
Services in Jeopardy
“By appeasing one demographic of society with increased wages, the Government has put critical community services in jeopardy. These are services which are literally putting food on the tables of those most vulnerable.
“Where’s the joined up thinking? The Community Service Programme funding will not be readjusted or take into account the increased wage and labour costs. This is a bombshell that was landed on community services less than a month before the wage increase was implemented in January.
“What options do services have? They’ve been told that they can make an appeal for additional funding, which may or may not be approved, but effectively they are being left to bear the brunt of the Government robbing Peter, to save Paul,” Deputy Fleming concluded.