Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has announced there will be no change to the State pension, however other social welfare payments have been cut by €8 a week.

Minister Lenihan said the Government has significantly increased the State pension over the last ten years and it is the Government's view that the security this has brought to older people should be preserved.

The jobseekers allowance and one parent family payment and disability allowance will fall by €8 a week.

The carers' allowance for people under 66 years of age is also to be cut by €8 a week.

However, the allowance for those aged 66 years or over will stay unchanged at €239 a week.

Child benefit has been cut by €10 a month for the first two children and an additional €10 for the third child.

Meanwhile, extra money was announced for people receiving a fuel allowance payment.

Mr Lenihan said that in view of the harsh weather conditions, recipients would get an extra payment of €40.

The Minister for Social Protection said that taking account of the Budget reductions in child benefit, families on unemployment and similar welfare benefits have fallen back to 2008 levels of support from his department.

He contrasted this with families who only get child benefit from the State which have fallen back to 2005 levels of support.

Éamon Ó Cuív said the Government had considered compensating for today's reduction in child benefit by increasing child dependent allowances for families in receipt the dole and similar payments. But it had concluded that doing this consistently would create poverty traps.

Helping the unemployed

Mr Lenihan said the Government is refocusing the National Employment Action Plan to establish clearer pathways to employment by ensuring that State agencies interact early and often with those who have lost their jobs to provide opportunities for education, training or work experience placements were appropriate.

He said he is providing an additional 15,000 activation places and supports for the unemployed at a cost of about €200m.

The Skills Development and Internship Programme will provide up to 5,000 places in the private sector with a contribution from that sector of an additional €38m to pay some of the costs of internships.

The Work Placement Programme will provide up to 5,000 places in the public service.

A New Community Work Placement Scheme will provide up to 5,000 additional places in the community and voluntary sector.

He said the labour activation measures will be completed by the extension of the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme to the end of 2011 and by the transformation of the Business Expansion Scheme into a new Employment Investment Incentive.

He said the aim is to provide more job opportunities, especially for the young.