Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming has called on Minister Brendan Howlin to explain why the Government is pursuing a 2:1 budget split between spending cuts and tax measures.  Frontline services in education, health and social welfare will be worst hit as a result if two thirds of the budget adjustment is by way of cuts to expenditure.

Deputy Fleming said comments today by Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirm that next month’s budget is being modelled on the same 2:1 ratio of spending cuts and tax measures as last year.  This is despite the fact that last year’s budget was independently found to be regressive and hit services thousands of people depend on every day.

Deputy Fleming said: “We need to see a budget next month that protects key services for people in need.  Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward proposals that will protect education, mental health and funding for disability services.  This government has consistently pursued a regressive programme of cuts, hitting the most vulnerable in communities across the country.

“Fine Gael inflicts more and more pain in health, education and social protection, but the Labour Party is mute.  Have they no view about the fact that the three departments least able to bear the burden of further cuts are being hit hardest? Where has the Labour Party gone?

“As the Minister in charge of Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin needs to confirm if he agrees with letting the highest earners off the hook once again while frontline services are savaged.  Fine Gael looks set once again to push the lion’s share of the burden of the budget adjustment onto families who are most in need of support and already stretched to breaking point.  This is not acceptable and the Minister must state clearly if these essential frontline services will be protected next month.”