JUNIOR FINANCE MINISTER Brian Hayes has indicated it may not be possible to avoid cutting child benefit in the forthcoming budget, saying that while no one wanted to do it there does need to be cuts in social welfare spending.
The Minister of State was responding to comments by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton today in which she signaled there would be no further reduction in child benefit in Budget 2014 after it was reduced by €10 last year.
Asked about a child benefit cut Hayes told TheJournal.ie this evening: “I know the view of my constituents that they don’t want to see any further cuts in child benefit. Whether that’s possible or not is another matter.”
“Clearly no one wants to reduce child benefit, that’s obvious, but there will be cuts and there will be adjustments,” he added.
The Fine Gael TD said that while there would have to be savings in the social protection budget it was too early to say what the scale of those savings would be as ministers await full second quarter growth figures.
Hayes also indicated that while there were savings achieved from the promissory note deal he would like to see the government’s deficit-to-GDP ratio down to around four per cent at the end of next year, below the 5.1 per cent target under the bailout deal.
He said this would help Ireland to make an orderly exit from the bailout and return to normal lending markets.
“As we are going back to the markets at the end of this year. We’ve got to back on a sustainable basis. We need to stay in the markets,” Hayes said.
“The worst thing for this country having gone back to the markets would be to have some secondary programme or having to go back looking for international funding help either from Europe or the IMF.
“What’s crucially important is that we continue to reduce the deficit.”
- camera and editing by Michelle Hennessy and Nicky Ryan
First published 7.35pm
There will be more from a wide-ranging interview with Brian Hayes in the coming days on TheJournal.ie
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