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Burton refuses to rule out cuts to child benefit

KEY social welfare payments have been ringfenced against major Budget cuts.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has pledged that basic pay, including jobseekers allowance and the State pension, will not be affected in December's Budget.

But the Dublin West TD would not be drawn on the definition of "core" welfare rates.

And she said no decision had been made on how child benefit payments would be treated in the Budget.

"We are committed to maintaining basic, core social welfare rates and we are committed to reform in social welfare," she said.

"So that people who are currently unemployed and claiming social welfare, if we get them back to work, every time that happens, it saves the State at least €200 a week and then they start to pay tax.

"I can't comment further until I sit around the table with my colleagues and agreement is reached," she added.

Ms Burton made the comments in Dublin today listening to 31 voluntary and community organisations who were outlining their concerns ahead of the Budget.

However, the Government is obliged to make radical cuts to expenditure under the terms of the Troika.







Pension

Ireland is currently spending €41m more than they are taking in by way of tax.

The recent IMF report indicated that changes in the terms of child welfare payments would be required.

The Programme for Government committed Fine Gael and Labour to maintaining basic social welfare rates -- such as the dole and old age pension -- and not raising income tax.

Ms Burton's comments leave the door open for changes in child welfare payments and social welfare other benefits in the Budget.

Fianna Fail spokesperson on social protection, Willie O'Dea, said he was "baffled" by comments from Ms Burton today that core social welfare rates would remain the same, but failed to indicate which ones.

"Minister Burton appeared to reassure people by announcing that core social welfare rates will remain the same after December's Budget," he said.

"She then bizarrely failed to explain what core payments are."

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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