Lenihan’s Budget given thumbs down

Community and charity organisations voice displeasure
LIMERICK’S business sector have described Brian Lenihan’s Budget as lacking a stimulus incentive to promote much needed employment in the region, while community leaders and charity organisations claimed that those at the lower end of the  scale were left to take the biggest hit.

A spokesperson for the Carers Association said they were horrified at the cuts imposed on them, and Focus Ireland fear that homelessness will again become a major issue.
“From a business point of view there is nothing we didn’t expect,” commented Maria Kelly, CEO, Limerick Chamber.
What was needed, she told the Limerick Post, was revenue raising through increased taxes and cost cutting.  
“A worrying factor is that there is little or no stimulus to get small and medium size businesses growing, and if that sector doesn’t grow, we will not get out of this recession.
“The Business Expansion Scheme will be expanded over the next four years, subject to EU approval, which could take 6-9 months in which nothing is happening. It is very worrying where we go from here”.
According to Lee-Ann Kennedy/Purcell of Southill Area Centre, it was indiscriminate. “People already in difficulty are now forced into poverty – the  vulnerable will suffer and those who are marginalised will feel isolated.
“There is no incentive to work out of this – we are concerned about funding for our area centre – we have a youth work team that engages with local children on a regular basis and runs many programmes for them – any cutback will be catastrophic”.
The marginalised and service users, she added, were without a voice, and where there are reductions in child benefit, it’s the children who suffer.          
Meanwhile, Stephanie Jade McDonagh of the Carers Association, said they were disgusted.
“We had meetings with several Fianna Fail ministers  who told us there were no plans to hit carers’ allowances, on the
grounds that they are saving the government money
“There are clawbacks of 3.8% overall – €8 per week to carers under the age of 66 – those over that age are not hit.
‘I am horrified – carers  have no official voice”.
Labour election candidate Cllr Joe Leddin, said it was an absolute scandal that upwards of €35 billion has been poured into Anglo Irish Bank while those responsible for reckless lending continued to work and receive salaries within our insolvent banks.
According to Joyce Loughnan, Focus Ireland,   homelessness will increase, with thousands forced to remain in emergency accommodation.
“The 36% slice in the social housing budget and 6% in funding for HSE regions, means that €300million less is available for social housing provision for 2011.
“This at a time when housing lists are dramatically increasing and there is €400 million less for HSE bodies that fund services for homeless people”.
She made the point that it will cost the State more to keep people in emergency accommodation than it would to provide homes.


Primary Points Budget 2011

*€8 cut for social welfare and jobseekers payments
*Carer’s Allowance for those under 66 to be cut by €8 to €212 a week
*Disability Allowance being cut by €8 to €186 a week
*4c on petrol, 2c on diesel
*Cut of €10 in child benefit
*Air travel tax reduced to €3
*No extra tax on consumer goods or cigarettes and alcohol
*No cut in State pension but public sector pensions over €12,000 cut by an average of 4%
*There will a 10% cut in tax bands and tax credits bringing 300,000 more people into the tax net. Income tax rates remain unchanged.
*New minimum wage (€7.65) not in new tax net
*A new 1% tax on residential property transactions up to €1million
*4% reduction in student grants
*Student service charge up €500 to €2,000
*Employee PRSI/health levy pension relief gone
*Increase in PRSI for self-employed

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