Tuesday 15 October 2013: For immediate release
Children Escape Most Austerity Cuts in Budget 2014 but Maternity Benefit cut is Anti-Family
The Children’s Rights Alliance reacted to today’s budget by welcoming the fact that children escape from most austerity cuts.
The Alliance welcomes:
- free GP care for under 5 year olds.
- that child benefit is to be maintained.
- additional funding of €6.7 million for the new Child and Family Agency.
- an allocation of €2 million for increased staff for Garda vetting.
- an allocation of €5 million towards subsidising the Book Rental Scheme .
The Alliance expressed unease and disappointment at:
- a reduction of 12% in maternity benefit.
- no restoration of the Back to School and Footwear Allowance to original levels.
- a lack of clarity on the HSE budgetary deficit being carried under the heading of Children and Family Services.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Alliance said:
“The Government should be recognised for maintaining Child Benefit and the introduction of a new universal system of free GP care for young children. Families simply could not have coped if Child Benefit was further cut. Assistance with GP costs will help struggling families keep their heads above water.
But no one in the country would want free GP care for the very young at the expense of the medical card being withdrawn from children with high level health needs. We would be very concerned that the Government intends to save €113 million from the medical card scheme. Who will be left out in the cold with this proposal?
The emphasis on child protection in this Budget is equally to be applauded as the State tries to undo a legacy of failure by trying to live up to our responsibilities to the youngest among us. However, new mothers and young people will have reason to be disappointed.
Ireland is currently in the middle of a ‘baby boom’ and to reduce maternity benefit at this time is counter-productive economically, counter intuitive and will result in discouraging people from having babies. It will inevitably force mothers back to work earlier and interfere with breastfeeding arrangements.”
Communications and Public Affairs Manager