Labour Abandon the Lower Paid and 190,000 Unemployed
After 6 years of cuts and tax rises this budget is a major disappointment especially to those in poverty, on low pay and who are unemployed. Based on CSO figures half a million families will remain in poverty. 190,000 people who are unemployed for less than a year will not even receive the inadequate 100 Euro per year water allowance. Those who are so lowly paid that they are outside the tax net will not get either the water allowance or the water tax credit. If they are paid just over the minimum wage they will not get the reduction in USC either which in any event amounts only to €55 for those paying €278 water charge.
Irish Congress of Trade unions has condemned the abandonment of the lowly paid and the 190,000 who are unemployed for less than a year. Labour in government is responsible for this.
Water charges are a deeply unfair and regressive form of taxation. They should have been abolished. I am determined to continue the campaign for their abolition until they are abolished. The allowances and tax credits are a pittance and hundreds of thousands will not even get those.
The public spending estimates are replete with under the radar or “small print” cuts and charges.
The health budget is effectively the same as this year 2014 despite manipulative presentation. In the context of increasing demands from an ageing population, this means further cuts. There is a black hole in the estimate of €460 million. This is a combination of further cuts (“savings”) and “income generation”. There is no provision for increasing the number of health care workers, doctors, nurses and support staff to meet the increasing workload.
Despite the best efforts of staff, services to patients will suffer and the trolley count will remain high.
There is to be no relief for overcrowded classrooms. Extra teachers and SNA’s will simply cater for the extra 13,000 pupils in our schools from September next. The grant to run schools per pupil (“capitation”) is to be reduced by 1%. The excellent INTO campaign “Room to Bloom” has been rejected by government. College Fees will rise again next year to €3,000.
The increase in child benefit of € 5 per month must be seen in the context of a core cut of 36 Euro reductions since 2009. The cuts in back to school allowance, maternity benefit and the respite care grant have not been restored. The cuts to fuel allowance as we face into winter have not been restored. The loan parent’s disregard has not been restored. The restoration of 25% of the Christmas Bonus (€47 ) while welcome is cold comfort to those facing a water tax bill of €278 Euro per year beginning on New Year’s Day.
There are 90,000 on the Local authority waiting list, 2500 in Co Tipperary alone. This figure has been artificially much reduced by a lowering of the income limit. Many are losing their homes each week. Many, not on the list, can no longer afford private housing. Their savings are gone, they can’t get a mortgage under the new rules and private rents will go through the roof. Despite increasing rents the cap on rent allowance has not been increased adding further to the demand for social housing.
The €500 million per year provided for new build in the budget, while welcome, is grossly inadequate to meet the scale of the housing crisis. The 2,500 new social houses each year to 2018, even if delivered, will still leave us with a housing crisis. There must be a major campaign to build the 10,000 houses per year that have been achieved in previous decades.
Where will the money come from?
The Financial Assets (shares, deposits, insurance policies etc.) of households are now well above the highest boom levels at €324 Billion. This does not include homes, buildings, land etc. The vast bulk of the €324 billion is held by the very rich as very many ordinary people have negative financial assets such as mortgages, credit card debt, car loans etc.
A Small tax on these assets could yield several billion Euro which could be used to restore public services and create jobs by direct state investment
Mutualisation of Debt
Approximately €8 billion, equivalent to the entire education budget, is being used to pay interest on state debt. A significant portion is being used to service bank related debt and much is due to the giving of tax breaks to the very rich who should have being funding public services. We will not have recovered any degree of sovereignty until we insist that European bank debt be mutualised. The circumstance in which the Irish people are paying over 40% of European bank debt is intolerable.
France has already defied the Fiscal Treaty. Why can’t Ireland do the same?
There can be no genuine recovery until there is adequate tax on the incomes and assets of the super-rich and until Ireland refuses to shoulder the burden of bank related debt.
Water and Property taxes must be abolished as a first step to recovery for those on low and middle incomes