Budget reverts back to one-day announcement

The budget will revert to a one-day process this year, a move which could help Labour politically.

Last year, the budget was announced over two days, with Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin announcing the spending cuts on Dec 5 and Finance Minister Michael Noonan the tax increases on Dec 6.

Labour was perceived to have borne the brunt of the criticism aimed at the Coalition in the wake of the budget.

This was because there was a full 24 hours of public scrutiny of Mr Howlin’s spending cuts before Mr Noonan rose to deliver his financial statement.

And in contrast to Mr Howlin’s cuts, when Mr Noonan did speak, he mixed the bad news with some good — such as extra mortgage relief for first-time buyers who bought during the boom.

Fine Gael was perceived to have handled its half of the announcement more deftly than Labour.

However, this year will see the budget announced in its entirety on Dec 5.

Although it is understood that both Mr Howlin and Mr Noonan will still both speak to deliver their respective sections of the budget, the one-day process means the package is more likely to be viewed in the round.

As a result, any flak may be aimed at the Coalition as a whole rather than one of the two parties taking a greater share of it.

Although its value to Labour would be limited, given the likely fallout from the €3.5bn adjustment, party backbenchers will welcome any extra political cover possible in such circumstances.

Labour are struggling in the polls and firmly behind Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

The latest Sunday Business Post-Red C poll published yesterday showed little change in the overall picture but did not contain any good news for Labour.

Fine Gael were unchanged at 32%. Labour were down one point to 14%. Fianna Fáil were unchanged at 18%, while Sinn Féin were up two points to the same number.

Independents and others were down one point to 18%.

The margin of error was plus or minus 3%.

The poll was taken last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday amid a representative sample of 1,003 voters nationwide.

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