Rabbitte: €325 cut to respite grant is 'modest'
on 07/12/2012 00:00:00
However, Mr Rabbitte, defending the budget in the Dáil yesterday, insisted the reduction was "modest" and that Labour had ensured worse welfare cuts did not materialise.
"Confronted with the situation that faced us, we had a choice of protecting the carers' allowance or the half carers' allowance, and dealing with a modest cut in the respite allowance.
"The people who do the caring will get exactly the same allowance as before the budget. The people who are entitled to claim the half carers' allowance will get it, just like the day before the budget. We have gone to great care to ensure those people's payments are ring-fenced."
He said the Government had produced "achievements" such as protecting core welfare rates and "raising more than €500m from those who are better off".
However, opposition TDs rounded on Mr Rabbitte, saying the budget was deeply regressive and unfair.
Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said it had "targeted children for major cuts in a range of areas", with child benefit cut and maternity benefit taxed.
Every one of the welfare cuts could have been avoided if the Government had increased taxes on those earning more than €100,000 a year, he said.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was "the utmost in humbug, Scrooge" to pretend the budget was fair.
"We all know it repres-ented a betrayal of a range of promises the Government collectively, but the Labour Party in particular, made to the electorate before the last election… More to the point, it represented an all-out attack on older people, families, women and children."
She said the cut to the respite care grant, in particular, needed to be reversed.
Amid the testy exchanges, Mr Rabbitte rounded on Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, brother of former Taoiseach Brian.
"If my name was Cowen, I'd stay quiet in this debate," he said.
Mr Rabbitte later withdrew the remark, saying he regretted it and had known Brian Cowen "better than most" people in the Dáil.