Full reversal of Home Help cuts proposed

Fianna Fáil’s alternative budget for next year sets aside specific funding to reverse the ‘deeply unfair cuts’ to home help hours.

Fianna Fáil’s alternative budget for next year sets aside specific funding to reverse the ‘deeply unfair cuts’ to home help hours.

Launching its proposals for Budget 2013 last week, Fianna Fáil said it is still possible to achieve savings of €3.5 billion next year without cutting funding for people with disabilities, for education service or for mental health services.

Offaly TD Barry Cowen explained, “This is about reaching the necessary budgetary targets without hitting the most vulnerable people and struggling families the hardest, as happened with Fine Gael and Labour’s budget this year.

“As well as vowing to protect education, disability and mental health services, we have set aside specific funding next year to reverse some of the mistakes that this Government made in Budget 2012. The Fianna Fáil proposals provide €10 million to reverse the slash and burn of home help hours that have affected so many older people and people with disabilities in Offaly and across the midlands. We believe that this was a deeply unfair and short-sighted move that will force many people out of their homes and into the already over-burdened hospital system.

“In addition to this, we have also provided €10 million next year to reverse the damaging cuts in student grants introduced by the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn this year, a further €10 million to restore the career guidance teacher provision in secondary schools and €2 million to reverse the discriminatory cuts to rural disadvantaged schools,” the Offaly deputy said.

Deputy Cowen went on to explain that all measures in the Fianna Fáil budget have been fully costed and that the party has ruled out property taxes at this time in light of the deepening mortgage crisis.

“We simply cannot hit people with hefty property taxes at a time when more than a quarter of homeowners are in mortgage difficulty,” said Deputy Cowen.

“The mortgage crisis is deepening every week and more and more families in Offaly and around the midlands are struggling to pay their basic bills. When little or nothing is being done to help them, how can this Government as them to pay hundreds more every year for their home?

“Our proposals are about a fairer way to recovery. The plan is built around protecting essential services for the most vulnerable, tackling the mortgage crisis and providing increased supports for homeowners in difficulty,” said Deputy Cowen.