The forthcoming budget is an opportunity to prove we have learned the lessons of the Covid-19 and invest in public services, where deficiencies were so exposed during the pandemic, according to Social Democrats co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy.
Our main priorities include:
- 10,000 affordable and cost-rental homes
- 10,000 social homes
- A new affordable model of childcare
- Deliver a truly free education system
- Invest in a €6 billion Green Transformation Fund
- Develop a pay-as-you-save retrofitting scheme
- Implement Sláintecare
- Increase core welfare and pension rates by €10 per week
- Expand access to the fuel allowance from 28 weeks to 32 weeks and double the Exceptional and Urgent Needs Scheme.
Deputy Shortall said:
“Our alternative budget is called ‘Revival And Renewal’ and that has to be the aim of politics over the coming year in order to deliver real change. We must revive our society and economy and renew many of those services which have been so exposed during the pandemic as being wholly inadequate.
“The pandemic has presented a window of opportunity where bold moves can be made to tackle the crises Ireland faces, around housing, public service provision, the climate emergency, and many others.
“In our alternative budget, we want to put money back into people’s pockets by ensuring they get better access to quality public services. We want an education system that is truly free; to develop a transformed childcare system where rates are capped; provide an additional five weeks of paid parental leave; and make significant strides towards a universal healthcare system that is free at the point of access.
Deputy Murphy said:
“We propose the creation of a Green Transformation Fund to direct significant investment aimed at transforming Ireland’s economy and putting us on the road to carbon neutrality. We should invest particularly in the area of renewable energy, with the aim of making Ireland a net exporter of energy in the years to come. The UN has warned climate crisis is a code red for humanity. Government actions to address this catastrophe must be commensurate to the existential threat that is posed to our society and our economy.
“The housing crisis is one of the greatest challenges the country faces. Delivering homes has to be central to any budget proposal and our alternative budget would deliver 10,000 social homes and 10,000 affordable and cost-rental homes. We would also introduce a land-hoarding tax, that actually works, and implement a vacant homes tax to improve supply.
Among the other measures proposed are the introduction of an immediate ban on rent increases, the establishment of a rent register to ensure landlords cannot breach rent control measures and the creation of a deposit protection scheme.
“The pandemic has also taught us valuable lessons about who really comprises an essential worker and this is why we must tackle the issue of low pay. A job should provide a minimum decent standard of living. We must move from a minimum wage to a living wage and that is why we are proposing a 60c increase in the minimum wage. We must also tie the level of welfare payments into a clear benchmark using the Minimum Essential Living Standards. Our budget provides for a €10 increase in welfare and pension rates with a view to moving to the MESL level within a number of years.
There are many other measures contained within our alternative budget, which are all aimed at improving people’s quality of life and reducing the cost of living. This is a budget of ambition, not mere bookkeeping, which would provide long-term and sustainable benefits across society.”
7 October, 2021
Read our alternative budget here: