Now pension hike worth paltry €2.50
A major row has erupted over attempts by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar to stall a pension increase in the Budget until the second half of 2017.
Having been backed into a corner by demands from Fianna Fáil for a €5 pension hike, the Minister is arguing that he should be allowed give a similar boost to carers, the disabled, the blind, widows, guardians of orphans and people on invalidity and illness benefits.
However, he does not have money to do this unless he delays the increases - meaning the rises would be worth just €2.50 a week over the course of the year.
In an email seen by the Irish Independent, Mr Varadkar told some colleagues: "While we would like to give everyone €5 a week from the first of January, [it] would cost approximately €350m a year, which obviously is impossible given current budgetary constraints.
"So we are working on a solution that will give everyone an increase as early in the year as we can afford."
Fianna Fáil, whose support is needed for the Budget to pass, has said delaying the pension increase by six months "is not an option".
Figures released late last night show that Government tax receipts this year are expected to be €900m ahead of target.
The forecast tax revenue outturn for 2016 is €48.135m.