Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has signalled that there will be no requirement for cuts in social welfare or education spending in this year's Budget.

She said: "In terms of social protection we are making very significant saving as a consequence of getting people back to work.

“That means there is a very significant easement in terms of the social protection budget."

Ms Burton added: "Last year €150 million of that easement was given to the Department of Health, this year so far €47 million (has been given)."

She said: "The real imperative is to get value for money and reforms in relation to the Department of Health and I'm very happy to be contributing really significantly to that.”

“[Getting] people back to work has an enormous positive effect on the parameters of the budget and particularly on the total spend of social protection, which is falling."