Business

Write a 500 word news report on the budget, happening on Tuesday 14th October 2008. Include in it the response of at least two interest groups and two opposition political parties.

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Little protection offered for low-income families in Budget 2009

Lower income families are to suffer the most in the wake of Brian Lenihen’s budget, which was announced in the Dáil yesterday.

These changes will not affect high-income families. But from next year lower income families will most definitely struggle to financially survive every day life.

The most severe changes include.

  • €300 increased cost for a secondary school yearly bus ticket.
  • €1,500 the fee for college registration – up from €900.
  • Leaving and Junior cert fees up 8% to €109 and €103.
  • Class sizes will be one teacher to 28 pupils up from the current 27:1.
  • Children’s allowance will be halved for 18 year olds in 2009 at a loss of €1000 and abolished in 2010.
  • The school books grant will be abolished.
  • The qualifying age for Disability Allowance is to be raised from 16 to 18.

Families will also suffer the 1% income levy, increased petrol charges and the 20% increase in bed charges in public hospitals the list is endless.

In response to the issue of aborting the school books grant Norah Gibbons, Director of Advocacy for Barnardos said: “Tackling literacy is the key to supporting children in disadvantaged areas to stay in school and progress their education. Why are these grants singled out? What will replace them to assist tackling the very serious literacy problem faced by as many as 1 in 3 children in areas of disadvantage?”

The labour party expressed remorse to the families who will suffer greatly as a result of this budget. Labour party spokesperson Joan Burton lashed out at minister Brian Lenihen accusing him of being “hard necked” and “shameless”.  Talking about those affected by the Ministers changes she added; “Middle class and working families haven’t just taken a hit. Middle class families have been mugged by the Minister.”

The changes will affect the lives of children of all ages but will be particularly harsh on the parents of 18 year olds. In that one year from the ages of 18-19 a parent will loose out on an initial income of €1000 children’s allowance in 2009 and €2000 from 2010. In this same year a parent may have to pay for college fees that will be increased by €600. Added to this is an extra 8% leaving cert exam fees, an extra €300 transport fees and any income the child may make in a summer job will be subjected to the 1% levy. Speaking for Combat Poverty Kevin O’Kelly claims “There is evidence that older children cost more and have a higher poverty risk than younger children, so the decision to cut child benefit for 18 year-olds does not make sense.”

While the full effects of this budget are not yet known it is evident that children will suffer more than the ministers who have to take a 10% pay cut. Speaking at the Dáil last night Fine Gael Education Spokesman, Brian Hayes TD, added “The reality of this Budget is that children are being asked to pay the price for the economic incompetence of Fianna Fáil.”

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