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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Social welfare payment may not increase in Budget 2019

Update 1.40pm: Social welfare payments might not be increased in the budget, Regina Doherty has suggested.

The Social Protection Minister says there is only limited room for spending and the across-the-board €5 increase seen last year might not be repeated.

Regina Doherty

The Minister hosted a pre-budget forum this morning and said she wants to help the 112,000 children living in sustained poverty.

Regina Doherty also suggested social welfare payments will not see an across the board increase.

"Given that we haven't started negotiations, I'm not prepared to rule anything out," said Ms Doherty.

"What my job is is to be practical, to be realistic and I said that by tempering this morning that given there is only €100m to spend, there is a ratio of two-to-one and I don't have first dibs on everything that's left.

"I think I have to be pragmatic about it."

[h2]Finance minister defends spending ahead of Budget 2019 forum[/h2]

The Finance minister has been defending hospital waiting lists.

Paschal Donohoe says there were 8,000 fewer patients on waiting lists in June than there were last year.

Pic: Sam Boal/Rolling News

Spending in the health service has come under scrutiny after the government published its mid-year spending review for Budget 2019.

Minister Donohoe says they are making careful investments: "We have 8,000 fewer patients on waiting lists in June than we did last June.

"We are employing more psychologists, we're making progress now building the new National Children's Hospital and opening up more hospital beds, for example in Drogheda.

"So we are making progress but Simon [Harris] and I want to do more."

Meanwhile, Social Justice Ireland (SJI) have called on the Government to equalise Jobseeker rates for under 26's ahead of a forum on Budget 2019 to be held at Dublin Castle.

The eligibility age was raised by the last Government during the crash.

"It's one of the most obvious discriminatory measures that are still in place and it has very little obvious benefit," said spokesperson Dr Sean Healy.

"It's basically discrimination against young people and the government should move to equalise Jobseeker rates.

"In other words, the people under 26 should be paid the same as people over 26."

SJI have also called for a €6.50 increase in the core social welfare rate.

Dr Healy says the welfare rate should be benchmarked: "Poverty levels in Ireland would be multiples of what they are today if it weren't for the fact that social welfare rates have been benchmarked at this level and that benchmark has been maintained.

"It's critically important now that it be maintained in the years ahead and we can more than afford it given the levels of income that the state has just acknowledged that it has available."

Digital Desk