LABOUR PARTY CHAIRMAN Colm Keaveney has said that the cut to €10 in child benefit in the Budget is still up for negotiation ahead of the vote which will confirm the cut this week.
TDs will vote on many of the social welfare aspects of the Budget this week with the controversial cut in child benefit from €140 to €130 among the measures that will be votedn.
But Keaveney is pushing for it to be reconsidered, saying he has “grave concerns” about the impact of the Budget. He has written to Labour members across the country, seeking their views on Budget 2013.
He was speaking on Newstalk’s The Sunday Show where he was addressing Labour backbenchers’ concerns over certain budget measure, he said that the government did not make the “correct choices” in some areas of the Budget.
While “many aspects of it that are progressive” Keaveney said there were other aspects which were “regressive” and said that he was worried about the “cumulative effect on working families” the child benefit cut and the PRSI changes will have.
“We had choices in the budget and in certain areas we didn’t make the correct choices,” the Galway East TD said.
He continued: “It’s my view that we have to go back and spend our effort, our time, our energy to ensure that we alleviate the impact on low income families in society.”
Keaveney had previously raised concerns that Labour Cabinet ministers gave up on their demand for a three percentage point increase in the Universal Social Charge on people earning over €100,000, a measure not contained in Wednesday’s Budget.
He said: “Prior to the budget being framed we were led to believe that the best mechanism to attract revenue was through the Universal Social Charge.
“I am surprised that we lost that opportunity to try and secure revenue from high-paid public servants in order to secure and underpin the protection of social protection and we failed to do that.”
Keaveney continued: “I believe that the government have failed to capture the public opinion on this issue with respect to social solidarity and ensuring that those who could and should pay more could’ve paid more.”
Asked directly whether he would vote for the Budget and the social welfare bill as currently constituted Keaveney did not commit either way, saying it was “not the game I play”.
Despite both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste saying that the Budget would not be changed, Keaveney added: “I keep hope alive always.”