Covid-19 has refocused people’s priorities – but this was not factored into Budget 2021

Speaking in the Dáil today, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said that Budget 2021 underinvests in public services and the economy.

Deputy Murphy stated:

“The budget ignores the fact that Covid has focused public priorities on public services, particularly around health and housing. We were badly prepared for the pandemic, due to decades of low spending on services. This policy was presented as prudent but has turned out to be anything but.

“We have underinvested in health, housing, childcare and disability in a way that was reckless. When the pandemic hit, we saw how exposed we were: for example, in terms of the number of ICU and hospital beds that were available.

“The failure to invest has proven very costly. Housing has been funded with huge sums being paid through temporary measure such as the Housing Assistance Payment. Instead, we should have been dealing with the cost of land and embarking on a large-scale building programme of housing which is affordable to rent or buy.”

Deputy Murphy also criticised the failure to invest in necessary income supports.

“The cut in PUP rates in September and the proposed cuts in January, as well as the proposed termination of the scheme, not only creates an added layer of fear and uncertainty for those who are already struggling, it has and will have a big impact in terms of the spend in the domestic economy.

“We have two economies driving this State – we have the multinationals and we have the domestic economy. When we examined corporation tax receipts at the Public Accounts Committee in 2018, our attention was drawn to the fact that 70% of all corporation tax is paid by the top 100 companies and 37% by just 10 companies.

“We need to rebalance the economy, including investing in balanced regional development. Budget 2021 misses the obvious opportunity to boost investment through borrowing at historically favourable rates.”

October 14, 2020

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