Fri, Dec 3, 2021
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Home Northside West 'Cohabiting couples deserve same welfare supports and recognition' says Northside councillor

‘Cohabiting couples deserve same welfare supports and recognition’ says Northside councillor

Labour Cllr Declan Meenagh has called for support for the Labour Party bill that would change the law so that a surviving cohabitant is eligible for a widow/widower’s contributory pension.

Cllr Meenagh says he is encouraging people all over Dublin to write to their TDs support the bill.

“The concept of family has changed and it’s time to bring Ireland into the 21st century,” Cllr Meenagh said.

“We want all families to be treated fairly whether they are married or not.

“This issue is experienced by a huge number of people in Ireland.

“The 2016 census showed that there are over 75,000 cohabiting couples in Ireland with child dependents – a figure that is likely to be even greater at the next census.

“If a couple is cohabiting the Department of Social Protection will assess both of their means when carrying out a means test for a social assistance payment like job seekers allowance or carer’s allowance.

“It doesn’t provide any guarantee to contributory social protection payments like the widowers’ pension when one of them dies.

“Cohabiting also has an impact on lots of State payments and supports – not just social welfare payments – medical cards, mature students going back to college, and many more examples.

“A cohabiting couple can’t claim or transfer unused tax credits between themselves and there can also be an inheritance tax burden when a partner dies. For the assessment of eligibility for social welfare payments a cohabiting couple is treated as together for income assessment – the same as married couples, but not if one of them dies.

“Some laws don’t discriminate. For example the recent Affordable Housing Acts provides for equal treatment for cohabiting couples to qualify for the purchase of an affordable dwelling if they plan to live together, so cohabitation is recognised for some laws but not for others.

“It’s time the law caught up with modern family life.

“The Citizens Assembly has called for Article 41 of the Constitution to be amended to protect private and family life not limited to the marital family. The State shouldn’t prioritise the relationship between a married couple over that of a cohabiting couple.

“There is a huge gap in our social protection system and it’s time to act to change it.”

 

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