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Acknowledging policy progress
We have been analysing and critiquing the Government’s annual budget since 1988, outlining proposals in advance and providing detailed analysis when the Budget is announced. Since 2011 Social Justice Ireland has been presenting fully costed budgetary proposals which would help to deliver a fair and just society.
We have strongly advocated on economic and social issues and consistently highlighted fair and progressive options that are available to Government within the Budgetary process. Below we draw attention to some of the policy areas we have consistently highlighted in our budgetary proposals and where progress has been made. It is important to acknowledge progress on policy issues. It is equally important to highlight those policy areas that are not seeing adequate progress or investment. We will continue to present fully costed, fair and progressive budgetary proposals to Government.
Public Services or tax-cuts
The current Programme for Government committed to cut taxes by €1 for every €2 spent on investment. We’ve consistently argued that the bulk of available resources should go on services and investment to address the country’s deficits. We welcome the increased focus on services and investment during the lifetime of the present Government.
Jobseekers Rates Under 26
We have proposed the equalisation of jobseekers rates for under 26’s to the full rate for many years. While we welcome the decision in Budget 2020 to equalise the rate for 25 year olds to the full rate we are disappointed that this move was not extended to all young people on jobseekers allowance payment.
We proposed a €10 increase in carbon tax with the resulting revenue to be ringfenced for a Just Transition fund addressing areas such as fuel poverty and retrofitting. While we welcome the progress in Budget 2020, much more remains to be done to move Ireland to a low carbon future and to deliver a Just Transition.
Vacant Site Levy
There has been an urgent need for a Vacant Site Levy for quite some time. Budget 2018 took some steps towards our proposals in this area. We continue to urge Government to extend this levy to residential units.
We proposed that taxation on in-shop and online betting be increased to 3%. We welcome recent progress in this area, and a commitment to fund gambling addiction services. We continue to urge Government to work towards our proposed target.
Sugar Sweetened Drinks
Social Justice Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation produced research arguing for the introduction of a tax on sugar sweetened drinks. While it took a number of years, we were glad to see this introduced in Budget 2018.
While there has been some recent Budgetary improvements in this area we continue to highlight the need for significant increased investment in the area of home care and home support. The allocation of an additional 1 million hours in Budget 2020 is welcome, but will not eliminate the current waiting list. This becomes more urgent given our growing and ageing population.
We welcome the increased investment in rural development in recent Budgets. However, rural Ireland is still experiencing serious exclusion due to the lack of effective broadband. We continue to highlight that the Action Plan For Rural Ireland depends on significant and ongoing public investment and the delivery of broadband to rural areas.
Ireland has an under resourced childcare sector. The National Childcare Scheme is a positive move towards delivering quality, accessible and affordable childcare options to families. However much remains to be done.
We proposed that the VAT break given to the hospitality industry at the peak of the crisis should be ended. We welcomed Budget 2019’s moves in this direction.
We argued for a reversal in cuts to capitation grants in schools. While progress on this has been slow, we are glad to see it is moving in the right direction.