Saturday 23 September 2017

FG says Burton must cut €440m from welfare

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FINE Gael is insisting that Social Protection Minister Joan Burton bring plans for €440m of social welfare cuts to Cabinet in September – including potential cuts to child benefit.

The party has hit back after a vigorous media campaign by Ms Burton to outline her opposition to the planned €440m of social welfare cuts.

She has said that such a high level of cuts would damage the economy by reducing the spending of social welfare claimants in local businesses.

However, a senior Fine Gael source has said that as recently as last month Ms Burton promised ministers that she would be able to bring down the €20bn social welfare budget to hit next year's target – which would involve €440m in cuts.

The Fine Gael source also flagged up the need for action in relation to the €2bn spend on child benefit for 614,000 families.

"Fifteen months ago, Minister Burton received a report from the advisory group on tax and social welfare, recommending a redistribution of child income supports from the rich to the poor. We look forward to discussing her response in September," said the source.

CHILD BENEFIT

There is very little prospect of another cut in child benefit in the October Budget, given that Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has firmly ruled it out in discussions with Labour backbenchers.

But by putting pressure on Ms Burton to bring forward proposals to reform the system, Fine Gael is demonstrating that it is serious about achieving deep cuts in the social welfare budget in some shape or form.

One Fine Gael minister said privately: "Tactically, she needs to be seen to be fighting the cuts in order to be able to implement them successfully."

Irish Independent

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