‘Budget of Omission’ as key crises in housing, education & health ignored.

• Workers must not be made pay for Brexit – deferral of minimum wage must be opposed.

• Carbon tax won’t deliver climate action & will increase fuel poverty

Brexit Bailout

Speaking on behalf of Solidarity and the Socialist Party, Mick Barry TD stated:

“Workers must not be made pay the price for Brexit. This Budget puts no conditions on the bailout that many large firms will be getting. The only mention of workers in the Minister’s speech is provision for social protection payments for workers being laid off. There was no mention of the minimum wage increase which indicates an announcement on this in the coming weeks. The Minister accepts that some large businesses will receive grants, and at the same time be laying off workers. Jobs, pay and conditions must be safeguarded rather than accepting the logic of the capitalist market. We need state investment with many of the major agri-business companies brought under democratic public ownership.”

Wealth

“Despite the dangers posed by Brexit, climate change and the housing emergency, it hasn’t occurred to Fine Gael to levy emergency taxes on wealth and corporations. Wealth and the numbers of ‘high net worth’ individuals is at record levels. Taxing multinationals remains a taboo subject for Irish capitalism. Charging the full effective rate of corporation tax would bring in €2 billion this year. Doubling it — to the rate that exists in many other European countries — would raise €4 billion, enough to build 20,000 local authority houses. Introducing a 2% tax on the richest 5% could raise €3.25 billion. A financial transactions tax of 0.1% could pay for free public transport immediately.”

Carbon tax & climate change

“Carbon tax will only have a minimal impact on climate change and is a regressive tax which will increase fuel poverty. The Minister indicated his determination to quadruple the carbon tax over the coming years the inadequate provision to protect the most vulnerable form fuel poverty is concerning – €2 a week is the equivalent of half a bale of briquettes.

Rather than increase taxes on ordinary workers, there is a need to build a carbon free alternative economy. Public transport has not been allocated the funds needed to take cars off the road. The €384m rise in the Department of Transport budget will not cater for the extensions of rail, light rail, bus services and rural transport that we need. If the government was serious on climate change we would see fare free public transport which would cost in the region of €625m.

The government’s own Climate Action Plan has a target of 50,000 retrofitted homes per year. This Budget does nothing to properly fund this or train workers to deliver on this in the coming years.”

Housing

“This is a ‘Housing Must Wait’ Budget. Despite the crisis of rocketing rents and the inability of young people or families to secure mortgages or social homes, the routinist government response is shocking.

The amount allocated to build social housing was in line with previous budgets. Only two lines in the Minister’s speech dealt with rents.

Budget 2020 should have announced a public home building programme building tens of thousands of social and affordable homes by the local authorities.”

Childcare

“Parents are faced with the highest childcare costs in Europe. The Budget made no mention of assisting parents with childcare costs. The €54m announcement will cater for demographic changes. The national average cost of a 2-year-old in childcare is €745 per month; this rises to a cost of €1,047 per month in Dublin. We need to see childcare as a public service with high quality care and well-paid employment.”

Education

“This Budget’s announcements on Special Education Needs teachers, SNAs and mainstream teachers only keeps up with the demographic changes in the country. Only 1 in 10 schools will get a new SEN teacher. 1 in 4 schools will get a new SNA. Parents and pupils will continue to fight for basic access to education for special needs.

The Minister announced no change in the pupil/teacher ratio which is the highest in the Eurozone and no increase in the capitation grant for schools.

Third level students saw no assistance with the cost of college with no change made to the SUSI grant, no provision of much needed affordable student accommodation, and no increase in colleges’ core grant from the State.”

Social Protection

“It appears that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are happy to have the State pension frozen as the cost of living for the elderly rises. The lower rate of social protection payment for the Under 26s is maintained by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for another year. This is no Budget for the most vulnerable in society.”

Health

“We are in the middle of a massive health care emergency. Last month over 10,000 patients went without a bed in hospitals while hundreds of thousands get sicker on growing waiting lists. Workers in healthcare are low paid and overstretched. The budget announcements will not even keep up with demographic changes and all the crises will continue to worsen. We need to see massive investment in public healthcare.”