Budget 2013 is a deeply unfair and shameful budget that attacks the most vulnerable in society, Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy has said. “It hits the poorest people by hitting the working poor, middle Ireland, the elderly and children,” he said. “The Government refused to go with the alternative of taxing high earners and preferred to attack the most vulnerable. The most shameful cut is the attack on children. Central Statistics Office figures indicate that 200,000 children live in poverty and 500 children are homeless. However, the Minister for Social Protection - an odd title - has cut €10 from the first and second child, €18 from the third child and, from 1 January 2014, €30 from the fourth child. That is against a background of Labour in government.”
During the 2011 General Election campaign, Deputy Healy said the Labour Party had an advertisement claiming it would protect child benefit because it had already been cut by too much. It stated: “Labour is against Fine Gael’s latest proposal to cut child benefit by €252 p.a. for the average family. Families need Labour in Government.
“Shame on the Tánaiste and shame on the Labour Party,” he said. “This is a disgraceful and shameful attack on families. It shows that the Labour Party has absolutely nothing in common with the Labour Party of James Connolly, Jim Larkin or any of the founders of the party.”
The Budget hits almost every other section in society, he continued. Carers, who look after those with disabilities, are having their respite care grant cut. There are attacks on the elderly in the electricity, gas and telephone allowance household package schemes. There is a shameful attack on low income families - the working poor - with the abolition of the €127 PRSI allowance.
“There is the property tax, or family home tax as it should be called, which is a major attack on families, on the 160,000 mortgage holders who are in distress, on the half of mortgage holders who are in negative equity and on local authority tenants who are being hit for the first time under this tax. Of course, it bears no relationship to ability to pay. The increases in prescription charges and for the drug payment scheme are also an attack on the elderly.”