Belfast Telegraph

Many jobless 'borrow for Christmas'

More than half of people on the dole expect to borrow money to pay for Christmas, according to a new survey.

Sinn Fein questioned social welfare recipients in Dublin and found the vast majority would have to cut back on food, heating and presents.

The party warned that planned welfare cuts would deepen the economic crisis and cast more people into debt.

Aengus O Snodaigh, Sinn Fein's Dublin South Central TD, said: "By eliminating consumer demand, further welfare cuts will deepen the depression, lengthen the dole queues and widen the Exchequer deficit.

"The only economy recovering on foot of the Government policy of cuts is the black economy.

"Thanks to the Government, this Christmas business is booming for money lenders."

The survey was carried out in the last fortnight at social welfare offices in the Dublin South Central constituency. Under the Government's four-year savings plan, social welfare will be cut by almost three billion euro.

The survey of 278 welfare recipients found 87% will be forced to go without essentials this Christmas, including food, heating fuel and even Christmas presents.

Of these, 67% will go without food, a third will go without home heating fuel and 84% might have to forego Christmas presents. Some 57% confirmed that they may borrow money to see themselves through Christmas.

Sinn Fein said it wanted to highlight the experiences of people on the dole queues. "The Government has shown that it is completely out of touch with reality so we wanted to illustrate to them the impact of welfare cuts at a family level," Mr O Snodaigh said.

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