December 9th 2009
Children face a 'Black Christmas' as Minister Lenihan slashes child benefit by 10% in the 2010 Budget. Family incomes are being attacked from every side in this Budget, but the Government has chosen to target children for the biggest cut of all. Parents' group PACUB is horrified by the Budget, and predicts that more and more families will fall into poverty as the new decade begins.
“This Government seems to have an obsessive need to cut child benefit,” says PACUB spokesperson, Treasa Dovander. “The very principle that they have chosen to go after our children while propping up Zombie banks sickens us to the core. Families have long memories and will not forgive this Government for making our children pay the price for the mistakes of the banks and developers. For the second time this year the Government is attacking families. Already we are to lose the Early Childcare Supplement, Child Benefit for 18 years olds and Mortgage Interest Relief, and pay more in taxes and levies. At the next election, Government parties will regret their actions today.”
For eight months PACUB has campaigned on behalf of families and explained the importance of child benefit. In October a petition signed by over 16,000 families was handed in calling on the Government to leave child benefit alone. Group members have protested, met with Minister Hanafin, and appealed to her face-to-face not to move ahead with this idea. Opposition parties support PACUB's arguments, and have produced Budget submissions that show how savings can be made without cutting child benefit. A joint press conference with OPEN, One Family, the Children’s Rights Alliance and the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) was held to demonstrate to the government how a cut, any cut would push families who are already struggling over the edge. They did not listen.
The Government has disregarded the thousands of worried voices of Irish families and moved ahead despite warnings that they will harm children and disadvantage families. How can the government claim to be protecting the vulnerable when they take an axe to child benefit?
“We dispute talk of the cost of living having fallen - we have seen increases in childcare costs in the past year,” says Ms Dovander. “We know that fees for doctors, dentists and health insurance have gone up. Many PACUB members say that their food bills are now starting to climb as well. A 10% cut will just strangle families struggling to survive. We also believe that this is just the start. If families take this without a fight, it will set a precedent, and there will be more cuts next year, and into the future as further savage budgets are promised.”
PACUB (Protest Against Child Unfriendly Budget) set out to give a voice to everyone who believed that the supplementary budget in April unfairly targeted families. On-line and paper petitions gave people the opportunity to be counted, and tell Brian Cowen to leave child benefit alone.