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Budget 2011: The first legislation 'to make families hungry'

The low paid, middle-incomes, families, social welfare recipients, the Taoiseach, the President: did only the TDs escape?

Mary McAleese (centre, orange) will voluntarily cut her pay by 23% next year, while the Taoiseach (to the left) will have his wage cut by 14% and other ministers by 10%.
Mary McAleese (centre, orange) will voluntarily cut her pay by 23% next year, while the Taoiseach (to the left) will have his wage cut by 14% and other ministers by 10%.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive

MEMBERS OF THE DÁIL were among the very few to escape the wrath of yesterday’s Budget, as families, middle-income earners, social welfare recipients and even the President were targeted in the harshest Budget in history.

The Irish Examiner notes that TDs were among the very few to escape cuts in yesterday’s €6bn of adjustments, with their salaries of €92,672 being only hit through reforms of their pensions, while the minimum wage was cut by 11.5% and the average family seeing its take home pay hit by thousands.

While income tax rates were left unchanged, the levels of the tax bands were lowered by 10%, while tax credits themselves were also cut by 10% – meaning that those earning €32,000 and over will now fall into the higher income tax rate of 42%, while their tax credits will fall by at over €600 each.

As well as that, families in receipt of child benefit will see their income fall further – with a €10 reduction across the board, with a further €10 a month being taken for the payments of third children. School transport charges were also hit.

Cabinet ministers will also see their pay hit, with the Taoiseach taking a €14,000 pay cut and with other cabinet ministers hit by €10,000. The next President’s pay will be capped, as will that of all semi-state employees, to €250,000 a year.

Mary McAleese has indicated that she will voluntarily have her pay capped at that level for the last year of her tenure, with a new presidential election due in November. McAleese is currently entitled to €325,000 a year,

One of the frontrunners in that election, Barnardo’s chief executive Fergus Finlay, saying it would condemn thousands to spend their days on the breadline, commenting that the government had “legislated to make families hungry”.

As TheJournal.ie reported last night, however, there is one other group that has escaped the Budget axe: because of reform to the PRSI systems, those earning just over €26,000 a year and who do not claim rent relief or any other tax credits will see their take-home pay actually increase.

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Gavan Reilly

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