Speaking on the Social Welfare Pensions Bill which would implement the Budget cuts, Fine Gael Longford/Westmeath Senator, Nicky McFadden, said the most vulnerable people in Ireland have been forced to take the hit while the administration costs of running the State remain untouched and social welfare fraud is also left unchecked.
“Those on salaries of less than €30,000, the blind, carers, and the disabled have been hammered by this cruel and callous Budget, while the areas where saving should have been made, like social welfare fraud and the cost of Government, remain unscathed.
“Prior to the Budget, the Minister for Finance argued that it would be fair and that everyone would contribute in proportion to their means. Clearly what he meant to say was that those who have the least will contribute most while he will attempt to deceive the electorate by purporting to take a 15 per cent pay cut,” said Senator McFadden.
“Furthermore, the declaration that cuts to those aged over 65 years have been avoided is disingenuous as they have lost their Christmas bonus, while being forced to spend an additional €2.40 on a bag of coal and an extra 50 cent on a bale of briquettes.
“Last week Fine Gael revealed a study of the Spending Estimates for 2010 Budget which showed how less than 1 per cent has been cut from the administration costs of running the State in this Budget. Less than €30 million or 0.66 per cent out of €4.4 billion in adjustments has been saved where State costs are concerned, while the lower-paid, child benefit and dole payments have been viciously slashed.
“Where social welfare fraud is concerned, not only has Minister Hanafin failed to recoup a single cent of the extra €82 million she promised in April’s Emergency Budget for 2009, but she has spectacularly lowered next year’s fraud target by €83 million, having failed to meet her own target for this year, sending a very clear signal that this Government is soft on fraud but tough on the defenceless.
“Fine Gael presented the Government with an alternative Budget which would protect the vulnerable and frontline services while eradicating waste and streamlining bureaucracy. Brian Cowen and his cronies promised to spread the pain, minimising the impact on those who could least afford it. In reality what they have done is trample on every struggling citizen in the country in a vain attempt to balance the books,” concluded Senator McFadden.