Child welfare cut in budget flagged
A new format for the presentation of next Wednesday’s budget will see Mr Noonan introducing the main taxation measures in a 40-minute speech. He will be followed immediately by Mr Howlin.
United Left Alliance has called for debt repudiation and higher taxes on wealth in its pre-budget statement today.
Among its proposals are to repudiate all debt deriving from the financial crash , to introduce a wealth and financial transaction tax and to impose a minimum effective corporation tax of 12.5 per cent.
It proposes increasing income tax on the wealthiest 5 per cent of society by €2.5 billion through graduated tax bands up to 70 per cent for incomes over €200,000.
There has been much concern raised over the rumoured budget measures by Opposition TDs and advocacy groups.
Cutting child benefit in next week’s budget would ratchet up the pressure on already struggling families who cannot afford to take any more cuts to their income, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on social protection Willie O’Dea.
In a statement, Mr O’Dea said: “Targeting child benefit in this way is a further attack on families with children. Currently in Ireland there are 250,000 children living in families that are below the poverty line - we should be trying to protect families, not target them."
There was no denying "tough decisions" need to be made, he said, but the Government did have choices "and unfortunately they seem to again want to target children".
“Let’s not forget that the full impact of the 2012 cuts to child benefit will only come into effect in January. Assuming the new cut will be for the first two children, a family with four children will now find themselves down €1,008 a year (€240 this year and €768 from last year’s cuts) compared to 2011."
The cut may be marginal, he continued, but it could have "a devastating effect"on families. He claimed Fianna Fáil had shown the €3.5 billion budget adjustment can be made this year "without touching child benefit. Our alternative budget proposals propose an even split between spending cuts and taxes, which is a fairer approach."
Tough questions now had to be asked of Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, he added. "Time and time again Minister Burton has promised not to touch core social welfare rates; this is a blatant row-back.
"I find it incredible that a Labour Minister, whose election campaign was based largely on a pledge to fight any reduction in child benefit, would even consider such a proposal."