“Young families and mothers are taking the most unfair hit in this Budget,” Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming has said.

Deputy Fleming said: “This is a disgraceful budget that has unfairly targeted people already under huge pressure.  The €10 cut to child benefit, and slashing the Back-to-School allowance by €50 are extremely unfair and unnecessary.

“There is no justification for this move other than crude penny pinching.  For the €17m that the Minister is saving she will in fact unleash considerable hardship on families who are already at the pin of their collar and I would urge her to scrap this unfair cut before the next school year begins.

“Furthermore the taxing of maternity benefit is mean-spirited and anti-family.

“Serious questions must be asked about how this budget was formulated.  The Economic Management Council drafted this budget for it to be rubber stamped by the full Cabinet.  This is not the reform of the budget process we were promised, in fact it’s a regressive measure because all Ministers were not involved in the budget process from the beginning. It may also explain the absolute failure to proof the budget for its effect on women.

“The across the board reductions in child benefit rates makes a mockery of Labour’s ‘red line’ approach on child benefit reductions during the election and they make a mockery of the promises made during the Childrens’ rights referendum to invest in children’s protection.

“In October Minister Burton told us that she would only consider cutting child benefit in circumstances in which we were able to offer Scandinavian levels of childcare. That promise joins the long list of examples where Labour have simply rolled over in Government.”

Deputy Fleming concluded: “Carers looking after elderly parent or disabled children will also suffer from the cut to the respite grant of €325. This is predominantly women who often give up work and in so doing save the State considerable sums.  Its removal represents another devastating cut.

“The budget is deeply unfair for families and women in particular.  This government has learned nothing from its disastrous budget last year and these cuts are going to have to be looked at again when the Social Welfare Bill comes before the Dáil.”