Pressure on Burton over budget
Minister meets with Howlin for second time this week
The allocation of funds to Joan Burton’s department remains undecided in the wake of these meetings between the two Labour colleagues, but Ms Burton has set her face against a fresh drive for the full €440 million adjustment.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is coming under renewed pressure to extract €440 million from the welfare budget next year as the Government seeks to prioritise health and education services in the new fiscal plan.
For the second time this week, Ms Burton attended bilateral talks yesterday with Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.
The allocation of funds to her department remains undecided in the wake of these meetings between the two Labour colleagues, but Ms Burton has set her face against a fresh drive for the full €440 million adjustment.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said last night that retrenchment target will be below €3.1 billion, but said the final sum has yet to be settled.
While the move to ease the target has lifted some of the strain on the Government in the run-up to Budget day on October 15th, the emerging focus in the debate is to protect funding for health and education.
“In as much as is possible, frontline services in health and education need to be protected. That obviously means making savings in other areas,” said a senior Government source.
This is understood to be a reference to continuing demands on Ms Burton to realise savings of €440 million.
The senior Government source said Ms Burton had pledged to her Cabinet colleagues last June that she would meet the targets set for her next year. The point was made that all Ministers made a similar pledge at that time.
The fiscal parameters are further squeezed by the emphasis on measures to boost job creation, favoured by Fine Gael, and on an effort promoted by Labour to provide some kind of aid to give “breathing room” to working parents with young children.
It is readily acknowledged in Ms Burton’s camp that she is arguing for a lower rate of adjustment.
Support for her position on the Labour flank of the Coalition is also acknowledged in her camp.