The Government’s Budget 2023 will widen the rich/poor gap by €199 next year. This calculation does not include any salary increases to be received by those with a job. Despite the welcome temporary measures to address the cost of living and energy crisis, in the long run this Budget will be seen as regressive and unfair. While one-off measures are welcome, when they are gone, they are gone. What we are left with is a skewed distribution of resources that favours those on higher incomes.
The Rich/Poor Barometer introduced in our analysis of Budget 2023 measures the gap between those on €100,000 and those depending on core social welfare payments. This gap is currently €979 per week. Policy should be focused on reducing this gap. Instead, the Government chose to widen it and prioritised the better off over the long term. Ministers also made a single-income couple on €50,000 a year a further €192 better off than a couple on social welfare. (Details p.9 of Social Justice Ireland’s Analysis and Critique of Budget 2023)
The €12 increase in core social welfare rates lags behind anticipated inflation for necessities in the coming year. A €20 boost was the minimum required to set Government on the path to benchmark rates to 27.5% of average weekly earnings over a two-year period. This was the target set by Government in 2007. (cf p. 16)
Social Justice Ireland does not accept aspects of the Budget that widen income gaps, fail to respect Ireland’s most vulnerable people, and leave Ireland’s poorest worse off when Budget 2023’s one-off measures are discontinued. We call on Government to revisit its decisions in these areas and to make the necessary adjustments in the forthcoming Social Welfare Bill to ensure the most vulnerable are prioritised. In particular, we urge Government to increase core social welfare rates by €20 a week.
Anything less is simply abandoning the poor.
The Full Text of Dr. Healy's Opening Statement to the Committee is available here:
The video of the full meeting is available HERE.