Today we got a look at the first part of Budget 2012 . Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin today announced a series of measures that add up to the €2.2bn in cuts.
The main points that I took from today’s announcements:
- Government will reduce the size of the public service to 282,500 by end 2015
- €250 added to the Student Registration Fee
- Student Support funding cut by 14%
- Student Maintenance Grant cut by 3%
- No new post Graduate Maintenance Grants
- Community Employment Scheme: The training and materials grant will reduce from €1,500 to €500 per participant per annum
- Disability Allowance Cut to €0 for those aged 16 and 17
- Disability Allowance for under 25s cut from €188 to €100 if under 21 and €144 if under 24. Now same as jobseekers allowance
- Drugs Payment Scheme increased to €132
- The frequency of the grant for hearing aids will change from 2 years to 4 years.
- Winter Fuel Allowance reduced to 26 weeks from 32
There are plenty of other cuts and changes announced, see the links at the end for them all.
To me what stands out from this budget is the Disabled. Above I highlighted the cuts to young people with Disabilities, but on top of that there are cuts to the Equality Tribunal, Equality Authority and the Budget for Equality Proofing is completely gone. This is not how we are going to look after people in our society and allow them to live their lives with dignity.
The cuts also focus on students with an increase in Registration fees and grant cuts. We cannot tax our way out of the recession but we do need a knowledge economy we we want to get out the recession so cuts in Education make very little sense.
In these times it is understandable that the Government faces tough choices, and these cuts were probably hard to make. No one is ever 100% happy we a budget, and very few people will be close to that after today’s announcement. But as An Taoiseach warned us in his National Address, these are tough times and tough measures are needed, but they too need to be balanced. The problem with the cuts announced today is that these same people will be hit tomorrow in any announcement of an increase in indirect taxation, especially a VAT rise.
The Minister for Finance will deliver his Budget statement at 3:45pm tomorrow.
- Budget 2012 (Budget.gov.ie)
- Budget 2012 Welfare Fact Sheet (Welfare.ie)
- Budget 2012 Summary (Citizensinformation.ie)
- Budget 2012 (pt 1): the main points of Brendan Howlin’s announcement (thejournal.ie)
- Budget cuts announced in Republic (bbc.co.uk)
- Taoiseach’s ‘State of the Nation’ Address – “Difficult choices are never easy” (irishelection.com)
- Living beyond our means (irishexaminer.com)