Budget – day one.

6th December, 2011

Carlow Fine Gael TD, Pat Deering, has accepted that some of the measures in today’s ‘cuts’ budget are unpalatable but insists that ‘it’s not all bad news’.

There are a lot of positives –

Agriculture :

1) Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme – the Government will continue to provide the necessary funding to meet all payments due in 2012 at current rates.

2) €5m has been allocated for the setting up of a Beef Technology Adaption Programme – this programme is been set up to give farmers additional skills to increase productivity.

3) TAMS – today the Government announced the re-opening of the ‘Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme’ – there will be funding for poultry & pig welfare, dairy equipment, sheep handling and rain water harvesting schemes, as well ad a Bio-energy scheme. In addition to providing an incentive for farmers to invest in their enterprises and secure their futures, these schemes will make a worthwhile contribution to job creation in rural areas.

4) The Minister is beginning a consultation process for the introduction of a small milk levy in the new year. This funding, .1 cent per litre will be ring fenced for dairy products promotion through Bord Bia to cater for the increased output from 2015.

Health:

1) Two important measures were announced, €35m for mental health services and €15m for GP care for people on long term illness schemes. There is also confirmation that the new National Paediatric Hospital will go ahead.

2) There is no €50 medical card fee. No change to prescription charges. There is an increase of €12 per month in the monthly threshold under the drug payment scheme but no increase for the less well off.

3) There will be big savings in the department of health through prudent management such as further savings on the purchase of cheaper drugs and the generation and collection of private income from public hospitals.

Social Protection :

Despite the fact that €4 out of every ten spent by government is spent in the department of Social Protection there are no cuts to the primary weekly social welfare rates. State pensions are to remain at current levels, all other allowances will remain the same except the fuel allowance – this will be reduced from 32 weeks to 26. There will be some changes to child benefit – all children will be standardised @€140 per month over the next two years.

Education :

The dreaded increase in pupil / teacher ratio has not materialised – this was of huge concern to teachers and parents alike and it’s good news that this didn’t happen. Also there is a commitment that SNA and Resource hours will be maintained at current levels. There is an increase of €250 in third level registration fee but this is still way under most of  our European counterparts.