Fine Gael will not touch Child Benefit payments in Budget

25,571 mothers in Limerick will continue to receive Child Benefit, savings can be found without attacking families – Neville

Fine Gael will not touch child benefit payments, according to Deputy Dan Neville who was speaking after the Party Leader, Enda Kenny T.D. spoke at the weekend to RTE, committing the Party to leaving the payment untouched. The Party Leader said that there were other ways of making savings in both the Social Welfare Budget and other areas of Government spending without attacking one of the few payments made directly to mothers on behalf of every child in the country.

“Fine Gael’s approach to previous budgets has focused on two issues; job creation and fairness in securing the necessary savings to get our public finances back in order. We have long argued that the best way of reducing the social welfare budget is to get people back to work. That is why we published our €11bn stimulus plan, NewERA, to invest in major new economy infrastructure projects which would get 100,000 people back to work. Getting this number of people back to work would save the Exchequer €2,000 million in a year.

“The other key issue for Fine Gael is fairness. That means targeting savings away from the front line of public services and from the old and young in our society. In recent years Child Benefit may have become a luxury for some parents but now it is a vital income with 48,182 receiving the benefit in Co. Limerick. We have based our proposals in the past on how you can save significant sums in the public service or through broadening the tax base. We have supported the introduction of a carbon tax and a windfall levy on power generators which combined could raise up to €700 million per year. At least €100 million of this money would be set aside to help offset fuel costs for OAPs facing high heating bills as we head in to winter.

”On public pay we have said that pay awards, bonuses and increments should be frozen. Increments alone, which are still being paid this year, are costing us €250 million per year. We have also said that we can achieve 15,000 voluntary redundancies from back office staff and that those earning over €80,000 per year should take a 5% pay cut. These proposals would save over €1,000 million per year.

“The point is that there are ways of making savings in our budgets if the Government has the will and the courage to deliver them. They require real reform and real determination to succeed. Simply hitting front line services or taking money off the most vulnerable in our society with no plan to get our people back to work is not acceptable.

“That is why Fine Gael, in preparing its pre-Budget statement, is committed not to touch the child benefit payment. It is a direct payment to mothers on behalf of every child and is a payment that thousands of hard pressed families have come to depend on. The necessary savings in the forthcoming budget can be found, including certain savings in the Social Welfare budget, and measures like eliminating fraudulent welfare claims entirely. We should and will, protect this vital payment to our children.”