Saturday 20 January 2018

Varadkar stuns FG with last-ditch benefits plea

Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers
Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Leo Varadkar stunned his colleagues with a last-ditch bid to secure Budget funding for increased benefits payments.

The Social Protection Minister made the demands, insisting if there is to be an increase in the pension, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people should benefit too.

His remarks came as a surprise to colleagues. One senior Fine Gael figure said: "I don't know what he's playing at."

Mr Varadkar is keen to deliver measures over and above a pension increase of as much as €5-a-week sought by Fianna Fáil.

At a press conference, Mr Varadkar said: "It's absolutely crucial that the Budget must include an increase in payments made to people who are under 66 as well".

He said carers, people with disabilities, those on the blind pension, widows under 66, families with children in poverty and people in receipt of illness payments should benefit.

Mr Varadkar said Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe shared his view that groups other than pensioners should gain from the Budget.

It is understood that last night an overall spending figure was agreed.

Irish Independent

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