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Snippet Contents:

Buried in the depths of the expenditure reductions is a €325 per annum cut in the respite care grant from €1,700 to €1,375. That is a cruel cut and there is no need for it to be implemented. My God, the bar has been set so high to qualify for a respite care grant now that many people with a family member, who has a serious disability, either use that grant to get a break - use it for respite - or they use it to provide essential intervention services for their loved one to fill the gaps where the HSE is not providing those services. There is no need for that cruel cut and I ask the Minister to reverse that cut which hits the most vulnerable people. Given the choices the Government has made in respect of taxation, it is impossible to justify that people with special needs should suffer a cut affecting their standard of living, which will add extra anguish and pain to the family members who care for them and save the State billions of euro every year in the process.
At the conclusion of my budget speech last year, I made the point that I have repeated since that the fairest way to measure the Government's performance on the economy is by measuring how successful it is at tackling the jobs crisis. I welcome some of the initiatives outlined in the Budget Statement, which hopefully will help the SME sector to create additional jobs here. Since the Government came to office in March 2011, using the official CSO figures, the quarterly national household survey seasonally adjusted, there are 30,000 fewer people at work. The unemployment rate increased from 14.3% to 14.8%.