Some of the most unfair and regressive elements announced in Budget 2013 will come into effect tomorrow and will hit low and middle income families the hardest, according to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.

Deputy McGrath stated, “For the second successive year, the Fine Gael / Labour coalition has introduced a regressive budget, the burden of which will be most acutely felt by those who can least afford to pay. For example, the decision to hike PRSI by a flat €264 per annum for almost all full-time workers in the State will place a disproportionate burden on those on low pay. In doing so, the government has increased income tax through the back door and quite incredibly has charged someone earning €20,000 a year the same as a person on €200,000 a year. Workers will see the effect of this change on their payslips from the first week of January.

“The cut in child benefit of €10 per month for the first and second child, €18 for the third child and €20 for any subsequent children, will come as a severe blow in January to families who rely on child benefit to pay essential household bills. The Labour Party election promise that child benefit would not be cut by any government it formed part of is now worthless to families who will have to live with the reality of this harsh cut. Other Social Protection cuts such as the cruel cut to the respite care grant and the cut to the back to school allowance will directly impact on the most vulnerable in our society.

“The introduction of a tax on the family home will push many low and middle income families over the financial cliff. The government has refused to take ability to pay into account and has ignored issues such as mortgage arrears, negative equity and the payment of stamp duty in recent years. How can the government justify imposing this tax on people who are already struggling to pay their mortgage?

“For the second year in a row, the government has decided that families on low and middle income will suffer the brunt of the budget cuts and tax increases while those at the top are once again protected. The complete surrender of the Labour Party to Fine Gael ideology has been sad to watch and the price will ultimately be paid by those who can least afford to bear it. From tomorrow on, the government budget spin will ring hollow as people feel the real impact of the choices made by Fine Gael and Labour in Budget 2013.”