Now Burton shifts into giveaway mode with budget vows
Published 04/07/2015 | 02:30
Tánaiste Joan Burton has said she will use her spending power in the upcoming budget to boost the incomes of pensioners, young families, the disabled and their carers.
Ms Burton, who has been heavily criticised in recent weeks for cutting grants to lone parents, said the budget will deliver modest increases for some of the country's most vulnerable groups.
Despite this week's positive exchequer returns, the Labour Party leader warned that the situation in Greece means decisions surrounding Budget 2016 cannot yet be made.
And she also took a swipe at Fine Gael deputies who have recently demanded the restoration of the telephone allowance, which comes under the remit of the Department of Social Protection.
"First of all, the budget isn't a parlour game in which everybody puts out what they would like," Ms Burton said.
Despite the remarks, several budget items have already been signalled by Ms Burton and her junior minister Kevin Humphreys.
A €5 increase in Child Benefit is on the cards, while there will also be a restoration of the respite grant and the living alone allowance.
It's also expected that Ms Burton will further top-up the Christmas Bonus, which was partially restored to a 25pc level last year.
The size of this top-up will depend on the level of money left over in the Department of Social Protection's budget towards the latter end of the year.
Speaking before special social protection forum yesterday, Ms Burton singled out the groups that she intends to prioritise in the budget.
"My emphasis will be on a budget which will help older people, particularly retired people; a budget which will help families with children; and a budget which addresses particularly as well the situation that faces people with a disability or the people caring for them as well," the Dublin West TD said.
In her address, Ms Burton confirmed she will look at further improvements in Child Benefit, as well as supports for families in part-time or full-time employment.
One of the charities present, ALONE, called for the Government to increase the State pension in Budget 2016.
The charity recommended the introduction of the UK-style triple lock model of pension increases. This system sees the pension linked to inflation.
"While the pension has not changed since 2009, this does not mean that older people have not been affected by the recession. Cumulative cuts from continuous austerity budgets has meant those who receive the state pension struggle financially as additional charges, tax increases and inflation effect their weekly income," said CEO Sean Moynihan.