FINE GAEL and Labour ministers have begun the battle over the next Budget already by clashing on income tax cuts and social welfare reductions.
Fine Gael ministers are pushing for income tax cuts before the next general election in 2016 but Labour wants to reduce cuts to social welfare instead.
Labour Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte warned it would be "foolish" to throw away progress in restoring national finances by cutting income taxes.
Labour's Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has said he does not agree with calls from Fine Gael Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Junior Minister Brian Hayes for tax cuts.
And Labour is going to back Social Protection Minister Joan Burton in demanding a reduction in the €440m target for social welfare cutbacks. This target would be hard to achieve without cutting child benefit or basic social welfare.
A government source last night said budgetary matters had not even yet been discussed at cabinet level.
The pre-budget jostling came as the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll showed that Labour's support has risen by four points to 13pc, while Sinn Fein has dropped by four points to 16pc.