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Beware ,the Soldiers of Destiny bearing Christmas presents..!

The agreed Government target for an adequate welfare payment is €150 per week set in 2002, which is now €171, uprated by inflation. In Budget 2006 the extra €17 per week payment will increase a welfare recipient's income from €148.80 to €165.80 per week (€8,621.60 per year).

While the increase is welcome it will barely lift the recipients out of poverty. The most recent poverty figures were released by the Central Statistics Office on Monday December 12. These figures showed that 19.4% of the population were at risk of poverty in 2004 and were living below €185.51 per week.

Dail take-away press release:Special Christmas dinner menu; Dish of the day;

Roast stuffed, Turkey-a la-Callely; a savoury Christmas treat from Clontarf, baked by Bertie, in a traditional way..

THE new €10,000 tax-free income for childminders, announced in the Budget, is a scam, in essence an outrageous confidence trick.Biffo-the-bear Cowan goes down the chimney,and comes back up with more than he had in the bag-on his way in.!!.

The Revenue Commissioners confirmed that if a minder earns a single euro more than the €10,000 tax-free allowance, then the whole €10,001 will become liable to tax.

The Department of Finance said: "No tax will be payable on the childminding earnings, provided the amount is less than €10,000 per annum. If childminding income exceeds this, the total amount will be taxable as normal under self-assessment.

"An individual will be obliged to return their childminding income in their annual tax return."

Married persons whose spouses are working, will have no interest in this Catch 22 trickery from the" Soldiers".

The new measure is only of interest to single parents,with no other income who would feel able to look after other children.

The stay at home mother gets crumbs.(an extra allowance of 20 Euros weekly.)

The ability to earn €10,000 but not a penny more without incurring full tax would restrict childminders to an income of €833 a month.

( less than €193 a week) so it restricts a minder to looking after only one child,to avoid the tax trap.

The monthly average childminding cost in the capital is €800 per child.

Thus the minister's suggestion in the Budget speech that a childminder could look after "up to three children" under the scheme now looks hopelessly optimistic.

A basic week's full-time childminding (five days a week, 9am to 5pm) involves 40 hours - for which the childminder can only charge €193 in order to stay under the tax threshold.

That works out at an hourly rate of only €4.82 - far less than the minimum wage. If the childminder is looking after two children, the available hours would obviously shrink to 20 hours.

If the childminder chooses to charge €10 a hour, then he or she can only supervise two children for less than 10 hours a week if they are to stay below the threshold for tax on the full amount.

If the minister fails to raise the income threshold in the next and subsequent Budgets to allow for cost of living increases childminders under the scheme would have no to cut back on hours every year unless they wish to work for ever-decreasing earning power.!

David Stanton, Fine Gael family affairs spokesman, pointed out that if the childminder has a working spouse and earns more than the threshold, then it is highly likely the whole amount would be taxed at the higher rate of 42pc.

This would mean the Government pocketing €4,200 from the first €10,000 earned, leaving only €5,800 for the childminder, or virtually halving their actual earning power.

The grab-back amounted to "a total contradiction of the spirit of incentivising childminders to provide quality childcare in their own homes," he said.