Budget will include free GP care for children under 5

The Government is to provide free GP care to children under five years of age as part of a budget package targeting families with young children.

The measure will be unveiled in the budget tomorrow.

Cabinet ministers met last night to sign off on the final budget which will include cuts and tax increases totalling €2.5bn.

The government has agreed to give the parents of nearly a quarter of a million children a new universal GP-only medical card.

The initiative will cost €40m. It has been criticised by some for providing medical cards to the children of families who may have a high level of income.

It will be balanced by toughening up on the income thresholds on medical cards for the over 70's which will result in some card holders loosing out.

Pensioners will also be affected by a cut in the telephone allowance, and a new reduced dole pavement for those aged under 27 is on the cards.

The government also agreed last night not to cut child benefit and to protect the the pupil-teacher ratio.

The budget will be outlined by the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure in the Dáil tomorrow afternoon.

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