The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD, today (12th October 2012), hosted a pre-Budget Forum to give voluntary and community organisations the opportunity to make pre-Budget submissions relating to social welfare schemes at a special session in St Andrews Resource Centre in Dublin’s Pearse Street.
In her opening remarks to the groups at the Forum, Minister Burton said: “It is important to clearly state that at this stage no decisions have been made in relation to measures for Budget 2013. These will be considered by the Government in the coming months and in the context of the overall requirement to reduce public expenditure generally.”
Minister Burton continued: “One of my key priorities as Minister for Social Protection – the country’s largest spending Department – is to balance the books, in particular by starting to put the Social Insurance Fund on a sustainable footing. This is important not only so that we can recover our economic sovereignty but also to ensure that the social protection system is sustainable into the future.”
This year the Department of Social Protection will spend in the region of €20.55 billion on a wide range of schemes and services, 39% of all gross current Government expenditure. Over 2.2 million people, including 197,700 qualified adults and over 516,300 children, will benefit from a weekly payment from the Department of Social Protection, including those getting a jobseekers payment, on pensions, as a carer or for illness and disability.
Minister Burton said: “Looking ahead to the next Budget I will do my best to ensure that the burden of resolving the crisis does not fall disproportionately on those who depend on income supports from my Department.”
31 groups attended the Forum, representing older people, people with disabilities, lone parents, children, unemployed people, carers and family support groups. (See appendix for list of organisations who attended the Forum).
Minister Burton concluded by stating that she wanted to ensure that the social protection system is sustainable into the future. She continued: “There are considerable challenges ahead for Budget 2013. At the forefront of our consideration is the need to protect, as far as possible, the key income supports and services operated by my Department.”