Budget 2016: Cabinet to meet over finishing touches

Joan Burton insists nothing signed off, confirms increase in child benefit agreed

The Government will meet on Thursday to finalise the details of next week’s Budget.

The Cabinet will hold a meeting at 8am to put the finishing touches to the package.

Labour leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton said the Economic Management Council - made up of herself as Tánaiste, Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform - would meet on Wednesday night.

She insisted nothing had been signed off on but confirmed an increase in child benefit had been agreed.

Ms Burton confirmed a second free pre-school year would not be included in next week’s package.

She said: “We are having very detailed conversations that have not concluded yet.”

Discussions between the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure look set to go to the wire.

Ms Burton said there was an agreement by the two parties that the health budget would be protected.

However, she added: “What we want to see is significant improvements in the management of healthcare in Ireland and particularly improvements in patient experience.”