Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Budget Submissions.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare in respect of the 1989 budget, the number of budget submissions which he received and the names of those who submitted them.

In all, 25 submissions have been made to me in the past few months. Some of these submissions were made in the context of the Pre-Budget Forum which I held on 28 November 1988 for organisations working in the social services area. In addition to the Pre-Budget Forum I have had separate meetings with a number of organisations.

The views of voluntary organisations were actively sought and full account was taken of their suggestions and recommendations in the context of the budget. This is in line with the Government's commitment in theProgramme for National Recovery, to ensure closer liaison with voluntary organisations in the preparation of policy in relation to social welfare. I propose to circulate in the Official Report a list of the organisations which made submission to me.

Combat Poverty Agency, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, The Conference of Major Religious Superiors, Catholic Social Services Conference, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, National Association of Widows in Ireland, National Association of Widowers in Ireland, AIM Group for Family Law Reform, Gingerbread Ireland, National Campaign for Welfare Reform, Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children, Dublin Welfare Rights Group, Tallaght Welfare Society, Tallaght Centre for the Unemployed, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, Union of Voluntary Organisations for the Handicapped, National Council for the Blind of Ireland, National Council for the Aged, Eastern Health Board Pensioners Association, National Federation of Pensioners Association, Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union, Retired Members Association, The Construction Industry Federation, Simon Community, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland, Ayrfield-Donaghmede Unemployed Action Centre.

Arising from his reply, has the Minister given a commitment to the group involved in the Pre-Budget Forum as regards the Government's plan to eliminate poverty on a long-term basis?

I think the people who were involved in the Pre-Budget Forum were particularly concerned with the steps which would be taken by the Government in the current budget. I cannot commit next year's budget because obviously that will depend on what resources are available next year and on the level of unemployment. It should be quite clear to everybody that this Government are taking action as resources are made available. They were made available last year in an extremely difficult year and they have been made available this year for substantial improvements. We will assess the situation after that because there are inter-relationships between people at work and people who are out of work. We will examine that fairly thoroughly over the course of the next year and then come forward with our proposals for the next budget.

Would the Minister consider outlining to this House and to the public at large a five-year programme in which he would give priority towards helping, in particular, social welfare recipients? Further, may I ask the Minister if he would agree with me that despite the good improvements given in the budget to some of the working poor those who do not have a taxable income will not benefit from the proposals introduced in yesterday's budget and that they deserve to be given special consideration, perhaps by way of the removal of PRSI from the first £1,000 to £2,000 of income?

I am concerned that we are entering into a debate which is more appropriate to the budget.

In any budget, the Government have certain resources available and have to make decisions on that basis. The decisions have been made in relation to the current budget and substantial transfers — costing £155 million in a full year — have been made. This is a very substantial transfer to those who are dependent on social welfare and those who are on the lowest incomes. The social welfare element of that will be £135 million in a full year and the concession to those on low incomes at work would be a further £20 million in a year. The questions the Deputy raises relate to people who have no tax benefit, who will be at an extremely low level of income. The FIS is there. We will be improving the FIS. We have had a research study done on it recently and we will look at that finally in the context of the outcome of this budget. Of course, the FIS would apply particularly to the people the Deputy mentioned.

It will not do much for the people involved.