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Budget Statement 2013

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Snippet Contents:

In respect of the Department of Social Protection benefits, the Minister has cut the period in which people can avail of jobseeker's benefit, from 12 to nine months for people who were working for three, four or five years and who, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs, and from nine months to six for those who have worked ten, 20 or 30 years and who never missed a day's work or a week's contribution. The Minister is cutting their benefit from nine months to six months to save €82 million. The Minister might say that will encourage them to get back to work. That would be fine if there were jobs available, but the only option he is giving jobseekers, who are at their weakest and most vulnerable, having lost a job after working for decades and who know nothing else, is to cut their jobseeker's benefit. The Minister is essentially saying that new Labour's way is for these people to go to Frankfurt, Quebec or Queensland or wherever to get a job.
The Minister has also made it more difficult for employers to employ people. He has cut the employers' redundancy rebate at a saving of €30 million. We all would agree that the future success of the economy lies in small local businesses which employ between two and five people. If a downturn in business occurs through no fault of their own, the small business operator must lay off workers. If the employer cannot get that redundancy payment rebate, he or she will think twice about employing a person. That is a disincentive to employment.
The Minister has also cut the back to education allowance. He has discontinued the €300 payment per annum at a saving of €24 million. He has also cut the respite care grant.
This brings me on to a bigger issue directly affecting the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin. He should bear this point in mind because I have not made it previously. There was an application in the Dáil this week for Supplementary Estimates for the Department of Social Protection and the Health Service Executive to the tune of €685 million and €360 million, respectively. As the Minister knows only too well, there were a number of Supplementary Estimates last week totalling €73 million across a range of Departments. These Supplementary Estimates were voted by the Dáil because of the Government's flawed budget last year. The Minister's figures were wrong, we told him his growth projections were wrong and we told him the health budget was wrong as well. The Minister has had to come back in recent days with Supplementary Estimates to the tune of €1.118 billion for all those Departments. There has been well in excess of €1 billion by way of Supplementary Estimates.