Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Ceisteanna (158)

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

226 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the plans she has to reverse the cuts announced by her Department in the budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8031/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

The Revised Estimates volume published in February provided a total allocation for social welfare spending in 2004 of €11.32 billion. This represents an increase of €830 million over the 2003 out-turn.

In the interests of prudent management of the public finances and to remain within guidelines for spending growth agreed by the Government, my Department reviews spending programmes on an ongoing basis to ensure that programme objectives are still valid and are still being met in the most efficient and effective way. A number of measures to control spending were included in the 2004 Abridged Estimates, announced last November. The combined saving from these measures is estimated at €55.8 million or one half of 1% of the total value of social welfare spending.

The objective in implementing these measures is that social welfare spending might be better focused and that the available resources are used to benefit those most in need. The measures were chosen to ensure that they would not lead to hardship among social welfare recipients. I am keeping the outcome of those measures under review but I believe that, when taken together with the significant increase in social welfare spending announced in the budget, the level of social protection for vulnerable groups in society has been more than maintained and, in important respects, significantly improved.

Question No. 227 answered with QuestionNo. 113.
Question No. 228 answered with QuestionNo. 110.
Question No. 229 answered with QuestionNo. 106.