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Core Social Welfare payments protected in Budget 13

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 01:20 PM

Protecting the less well-off has been prioritised by the Government in Budget 13. Core social welfare packages have been protected despite the gap in our public finances of €13.5bn and the need to make savings in Social Protection to the order of €390m.

Labour's commitment to fairness remains strong and is demonstrated with no rate cuts to primary social welfare payments or pensions for 1.4million people. The carer and half-rate carers allowance has been maintained. However savings had to be made in this area. The Respite Care grant is not means tested, not vouched and has increased significantly over the years; after the reduction it will stand at €1,375. Minister Joan Burton said she doesn't wish to cut Child Benefit, Respite Care grant and understands how people are struggling to make ends meet but it is not possible to entirely avoid cuts in social protection spending. While Social Protection accounts for 37 per cent of Government spending, it accounts for less than a fifth of the total savings in expenditure in 2013.

Minister Burton said: "While I understand the disquiet felt by those affected by the measures in the Bill, it is also fair to point to the large numbers of social welfare recipients whose incomes are entirely unaffected by the Budget because their payments have been preserved. For the second year in a row, there has been no across the board cut in weekly payments, which is a considerable achievement."

While savings had to be made there is new spending within Social Protection such as €14m per annum to provide more than 6,000 after school places for children in primary school; €2m is to be allocated to the Schools Meals programme for disadvantaged schools and €2.5m for areas based child poverty schemes. The Tús scheme will have another 2,500 places as will the JobBridge programme and there will be 3,000 new places in a new Local Authority Employment Scheme.

Minister Burton spoke in the Dáil about the Budget which you can watch in the accompanying video or you can read her speech in our press office.

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