Working mothers in Offaly and across the midlands are set to lose an average of around €3,300 during their maternity leave as a result of cuts introduced in the budgets for this year and next.
That’s according to Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen who has accused the Government of engaging in a ‘targeted attack’ on working mothers. He has highlighted the fact that €70 million has been taken from maternity benefit in the last two budgets, through a new tax on the benefit this year and a cut in weekly payments next year.
“Last year Fine Gael and Labour decided to tax maternity benefit for the first time in history. This tax kicked in in July and has resulted in hundreds of mothers across Offaly already losing up to €2,700 or €450 per month during their 26 weeks maternity leave,” Deputy Cowen said.
“As if this drastic cut wasn’t enough, the Government has gone back to working mothers again in Budget 2014 for more cuts. The so-called ‘standardisation’ of maternity benefit to €230 is in fact cut of €32 a week for over 90% of mothers, who are on the higher rate of benefit.
“This is yet another major blow to working women and young families across Offaly. It’s a highly retrograde step, particularly coming on the heels of recommendation from the expert group on Early Years Strategy that maternity leave should be increased from 6 months to a year. The Government is going in the complete opposite direction by significantly reducing supports for pregnant women and young mothers, and making it more difficult for them to take this important time out of the workplace.
“I am strongly opposed to these successive maternity cuts as I believe it is wrong to target young mothers in this way. I am calling on Fine Gael and Labour to reconsider. This cut doesn’t kick in until January, so there is still time to put a stop to it,” Deputy Cowen concluded.