Government denies reports of divisions ahead of Budget

Monday 03 December 2012 11.21
Joan Burton said that coalition discussions on the Budget were intense
Joan Burton said that coalition discussions on the Budget were intense

Government ministers have denied that there are any divisions between the coalition parties as they finalise the details of Budget 2013.

Despite reports of tension between Fine Gael and Labour, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the main details of the Budget have been agreed.

As reports continue to emerge about what may be in the Budget, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said core weekly social welfare payments will be protected.

Ms Burton also confirmed the Government is examining proposals to offer older people the option of deferring payment of property taxes until after they have died.

She told RTÉ's This Week that Finance Minister Michael Noonan was examining a range of payment possibilities, including that of the estate of older people settling outstanding property tax.

Ms Burton said she favoured a series of "easy pay" options for the tax, including a voluntary scheme to allow the tax to be deducted from welfare payments.

However, she said that a mandatory deduction of the tax would be difficult, given the obligation on her department to pay a basic welfare rate of €188.

Ms Burton said that she had articulated the Labour Party's view that living on the basic social welfare rate of €188 per week was "tight" and added "that's why we in the Labour Party want to protect basic social welfare rates".

A source in the department confirmed that such a payment would follow a lowering in the universal rate, which would be means-tested.

On the issue of payments to older people, Ms Burton said that a high-quality card will be introduced to cut out travel pass fraud and that Government would negotiate with communications and utility companies to reduce costs to welfare recipients.

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