Deputy Willie O’Dea has stated that the Government have attacked the most vulnerable in society in the Budget and made a mockery of many of their pre-election promises.
Deputy O’Dea said, “In relation to Child Benefit, the announcement that the rate for the third and subsequent children are to be standardised makes a mockery of Labour’s ‘red line’ approach on child benefit reductions. For a five child family this will mean a monthly loss of over €100. This is another critical blow to families struggling to make ends meet.”
“The Government’s announcement that it will significantly cut the Fuel Allowance is another crude and cruel cost cutting measure that exposes the hypocrisy of the Fine Gael / Labour Government. This leaves old age pensioners and welfare recipients increasingly exposed to poor weather conditions and heating cost increases.”
“I abhor the decision to slash the income of the most vulnerable section of Irish society – young people living with severe disabilities. A young disabled adult aged 16-18 is today receiving €188 per week, giving them some small measure of independence. Following this Government’s choices announced yesterday, young men and women in the exact same situation will receive approximately €71 per week. Those aged 18-24 will see their allowance cut from €188 to just €100 per week. These are massive, calculating and callous cuts and should be reversed.”
“I also condemn the Government’s decision to target One Parent Families by the back door. Through the changes to criteria and income eligibility, the Government has actually cut welfare payments to one of the most vulnerable sections of society.”
“The Government has also targeted third level students as it intends to increase the student contribution fee by €250 in 2012, abolish supports for postgraduate students entering college next year apart from some limited circumstances, cut student maintenance grants by 3%, and they have also announced that a capital asset test will be introduced in 2013 making it more difficult for farming families and the self-employed to qualify for any student support.
Deputy O’Dea continued, “Drivers who bought low emission cars on the basis of the tax regime in place will also be angry and disappointed today. Band A is being increased from €104 to €160 while Band B is being ramped up by €156 to €225. These massive €56 and €69 hits on drivers who bought low emission cars are further compounded by VAT increases on petrol and excise duty increases.”
Deputy O’Dea concluded, “There are also going to be a lot of very angry retailers today, not just because VAT is being increased by 2% at the worst possible time, but also on the basis of the very clear commitment the Government made to legislate against upward only rent reviews – another broken promise.”