Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has said the budget announcements which have been outlined by the Ministers for Finance and Minister Public Expenditure will leave many people in the country feeling like they have been the victims of a sick joke.
Deputy McGrath was speaking as a range of cuts to the elderly and young mothers was announced.
“While there are significant elements of this Budget that could have been far worse, it remains to true to say that this is a budget which will disproportionately hit those least able to afford it.
The removal of the grant to cover death expenses is a particularly cruel cut as is the removal of elements of the Household Benefits Package like the free phone usage for the elderly. I have no doubt that the elderly will still make their voices heard very clearly about this miserly cut.
I am particularly worried about the proposed cuts to social welfare payments for the young unemployed and I fear that this will only escalate the forced emigration crisis.
Many of the savings to be made from these cuts are really quite small and yet they will affect a significant amount of people and contribute to a deteriorating quality of life. It is hugely disappointing to realise that this Fine Gael/Labour Government have deliberately excluded the rich and targeted the poor and vulnerable.
I am happy to see introduced some measures that I have been consistently calling for over the last three years, namely the incentives for a Home Renovation Scheme. This will greatly assist in the elimination of the Black economy in construction. My own pre-budget submission also called for retention of the 9% VAT rate on Tourism services and I am certainly glad to see that the Minister has been persuaded of the merits of retaining that VAT level for the next year.
My own sense however is that ultimately people will very cheated when the detail of this Budget mores more apparent. The Government went out of its way to assure people that great news was on the way, that we would all be left open mouthed at their generosity; nothing of the sort has materialised. They may make big political play about the likes of the banks contributing €150 million over the next year but this needs to be seen in the context of the fact that the banks have cost the State billions. In the coming days we will have to digest more thoroughly the main savage elements of this Budget and I have no doubt that it will be a bitter pill for hundreds of thousands of people to swallow,” concluded Deputy McGrath.