[Sinn Fein]

11th August 2000

Inflation lowering living standards for less well off

The Mayor of Sligo, Sinn Fein Alderman Sean MacManus has claimed that rising inflation is ``lowering dramatically the living standards and quality of life for those less well off and most vulnerable in our society.''

Alderman MacManus told a meeting of the Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein election directorate that ``according to recent figures from the Central Statistics office, the annual rate of inflation to the end of June reached 5.5%. This is the highest level of inflation in 15 years and so far there is no indication that this Fianna Fail/PD administration has any idea as to how to bring this crisis to an end.''

He added:

``As far as many workers are concerned, the Partnership for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) is now dead in the water. Under this agreement the ICTU agreed to wage increases of 5%. If as predicted, inflation reaches 6% by the end of the year, the wage increase will have disappeared and workers will actually be worse off than before.''

``Families on low income and people dependent on social welfare payments are the ones who are suffering most from this inflationary cycle. It is these people who spend a high proportion of their income on food and other imported supermarket products. Price increases in this area are significantly lowering the living standards of these households while this year s social welfare payment increases were even less than the 5% increase to workers.

``Once again the needs of the most vulnerable and less well off in our society have been neglected. It should not however, come as a shock to find that the higher wage earners are least affected by the price increases and find it easier to withstand this inflationary cycle. The Government must take effective measures to protect and enhance the quality of living standards of the unemployed and the low paid worker. Inflation must be tackled and reduced. However, at this time of economic boom, this cannot be done at the expense of the low paid.'' ENDS

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