Aside from the Vintners’ Association of Ireland, which welcomed the 2011 Budget announced this week, which did not impose any increases on the price of alcohol, reaction to the budget from most other sectors has been swift and largely condemnatory this week.
A snapshot of responses from representative bodies went as follows:
UNITE trade union
“This Government has sought to right the wrongs of the bank leaderships’ criminal misadventure by taking €40 per week off workers on the minimum wage,” said Jimmy Kelly, UNITE Irish regional secretary. “It is undemocratic in the extreme to saddle a generation with chronic unemployment, no growth and a one way ticket to foreign shores through the return of mass emigration.”
Children’s charity Barnardos
Children and families have been cast adrift by Budget 2011, according to children’s charity Barnardos.
“Poor children live in poor households,” said Norah Gibbons, Barnardos’ director of advocacy. “The four per cent cut to adult social welfare payments and €5.30 cut to the qualified adult payment on top of last year’s €8 cut will mean that many children will go without one full meal every week. Added to this the €10 and €20 cut to Child Benefit will make fundamentals like heat and electricity difficult to pay for many families.”
The Children’s Rights Alliance also expressed deep disappointment with Budget 2011 stating it would mean the only ABCs today’s children will learn are ‘Anglo, banks, and cuts’.
Women’s Council of Ireland
Faced with cuts to Child Benefit, many low paid women will be forced to decide if they can afford to stay in the workforce, according to the Women’s Council of Ireland.
“Families in this country pay exceptionally high childcare costs and rely on Child Benefit to pay it,” said National Women’s Council chief executive, Susan McKay. “Over 60 per cent of those on the minimum wage are women, so they will also bear the brunt of a further cut which will have no impact on overall competitiveness or unemployment. This budget is bad for women, bad for children, bad for the economy,”
Senior Citizens Parliament
Disappointment with the budget has also been expressed by older people representatives. “Older people needed protection in the Budget,” said Mairéad Hayes, CEO of the Senior Citizens Parliament. “We very much welcome the essential maintenance of the State pension as well as the extra €40 in the fuel allowance. However it was disappointing to see that income tax age credits are to be phased out. This will only affect older people, whose income will be taxed by up to an extra €325 per person. In addition income tax age exemptions are being abolished over four years, again targeting pensioners with pretty low incomes.”
According to IFA president John Bryan the changes announced to the tax and PRSI regime will be particularly harsh on low-income families, many of whom are in the farming sector.
However, he said the decision to keep the farm schemes – especially Disadvantaged Areas, REPS, Suckler Cow Welfare, and forestry, and the commitment to provide for a new AEOS scheme, for the 10,000 farmers leaving REPS3 in 2011, was very important and welcome.
Family carers receive ‘slap in the face’
“Family carers who look after their loved ones in the home save the State an estimated €2.8 billion per year,” said Enda Egan, CEO, The Carers Association. “In return carers received €212 per week, which in most cases barely enabled them to make ends meet. This latest cut of four per cent, €8.48 per week, will have a real impact on the welfare of a very substantial proportion of family carers, already finding it difficult to meet everyday bills like heat and electricity, essential to maintaining the well-being of their loved ones.”
VFI welcomes budget
One sector pleased with the budget was the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
“The VFI welcomes the measures announced by Government today to maintain the current level of excise on alcohol products,” said president Gerry Mellett, adding that it should help to “save jobs in Ireland”.