Cabinet Meets To Discuss Budget

The scale of the Government's budget cuts is to be hammered out during today's cabinet meeting.

Today's meeting is the first of two pre-Budget sessions where Ministers will begin to set out a 4-year plan to reduce the country's Budget deficit to 3% by 2014.

Current estimates suggest the upcoming budget could see cuts of anywhere between €4.5 billion and €6 billion, with those on welfare expected to be facing "painfull" cuts to their payments.

Barry Andrews told RTÉ's The Week in Politics, to be broadcast tonight, that the cuts may also have a "detrimental effect" on education.

Today's discussions are also expected to include an opinion poll published on Sunday, which revealed that half of Fianna Fail's TDs could lose their seats at the next election.

The 'Sunday Business Post' Red C' opinion poll showed that Fianna Fail's support level has fallen by six points to 18pc, its lowest rating so far. This is less than half the 41pc share of the vote it got in the 2007 General Election.

Currently, the Government is split on the scale of the adjustment required for the budget on December 7th, while many advising bodies have expressed concern than major cuts could harm the State's economy as opposed to helping it.

Charites and support groups are also pressing the Government to use caution. Launching its Pre-Budget Submission, One Family, provider of specialist support services for one-parent families, said that at a time when cutbacks are inevitable One Family was calling on the Government to ensure those already experiencing high levels of poverty and social exclusion are protected from any more cuts because of the current recession.

According to the group, levels of poverty experienced by one-parent families in Ireland with 17.8% of lone parent households living in consistent poverty; a rate more than four times the national average of 4.2%.

Candy Murphy, Policy Manager of One Family, said: “More and more lone parents are contacting us because they are having difficulties in making ends meet for their families. A recent ESRI study found that child poverty has become increasingly concentrated in one-parent families.

“The government has stated its desire to reduce poverty rates for lone parents and their children and to remove barriers to employment for this vulnerable group. We are today calling on the government to start to make this a reality in 2011 by making modest increases in supports for children in low income families.”


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