Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, described today’s budget as an attack on mothers and condemned the government’s targeting of women in today’s budget.

“The slashing of Child Benefit, taxing of maternity benefit, failure to progress child care provision and cutbacks to the vital Back to School Allowance will be felt most of all by women,” said Deputy O’Dea.

“For an ordinary mother rearing a young family she will be hit by reduced supports, new taxes and no substantial new childcare supports. It is clearly an anti- family budget.

“Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore stated that protecting Child Benefit was a pre-condition to Labour entering government, less than two years on these promises have been thrown aside as the Government inflicts yet another deeply unfair budget. In particular it is women who will feel the effect of Labour’s broken promises as Child Benefit was a vital source of income for mothers.  The surprise additional blow of making the 26-week maternity benefit taxable rubs salt into the wound and specifically penalises mothers. Meanwhile, next September as mothers get their children ready for school they will find that the Back to School Allowance has been slashed, placing more pressure on already stretched finances. 

“The government announced that Child Benefit will be cut by €10 per child in order to save €136m in today’s budget while Maternity Benefit will now be treated as taxable income. The Back to School Footwear and Clothing Allowance has also been slashed  by €50, from €150 to €100 (children aged 4 to 11), and €250 to €200 (children aged 12 to 17 or aged 18 to 22 in full time education). Only minor measures were announced in relation to childcare.

“Families across the country are struggling to make ends meet, they need the Child Benefit and these reductions will compound the Budget 2012 cutbacks that they have already endured. A family with 2 children will lose €240 on what they received this year while a family with 3 children will lose a massive €684 euro per year in comparison to what they received in 2011 when the government was elected. The measly fig leaf measures announced to try take the sting out of the cuts will have no real impact on the ground for struggling families and fall desperately short of the Scandinavian Child Care model promised by Minister Burton only last April.

“The needs of mothers clearly never crossed the government’s minds, as women disproportionately bear the costs of the cuts”.