Increased investment and incomes key to a ‘Working Recovery’ says Jimmy Kelly
September 15th: Unite today issued its Pre-Budget Submission. Entitled A Working Recovery, the submission includes a package of measures to increase low incomes and proposals for investment in social housing and childcare. Unite is also proposing a phased-in increase in Employers’ PRSI to fund a new Pay-Related Unemployment Benefit.
Key proposals include:
- Targeted tax reductions for low and average income earners including non-implementation of the proposed water charges, the introduction of refundable tax credits and measures to ameliorate the impact of PRSI on the low-paid.
- Phased increase in Employer’s PRSI to fund a new Pay-Related Unemployment Benefit
- A substantial increase in public investment to drive employment, growth and increased productivity – including an emergency social housing building programme
- Rolling out affordable childcare with fees reduced by nearly two-thirds over current market rates and the abolition of Direct Provision restrictions on asylum seekers
- Income boost for all low-income earners with an increase in the National Minimum Wage and a targeted increase in pay for low-paid public sector workers
- Increase of €800 million in tax revenue from capital, inheritances, financial property, and high-income groups.
Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“The austerity policies pursued by successive governments have forced workers to pay for the crisis that started in the private financial sector. Unite has consistently advocated an alternative based on driving investment and boosting the living standards of low and average income groups. The alternative is that those who suffered most during the recession will end up paying for the recovery.
“Unite’s proposals for Budget 2015 will put €800 million into the pockets of people on low incomes through a combination of targeted tax changes for low earners and a €5 increase in basic Social Protection rates, as well as non-implementation of the proposed domestic water charges. .
“At the same time, we are proposing a €900 million public investment injection, and suggesting that the Government petition the European Commission to exempt a Special Social Housing Investment Programme from the Stability and Growth Pact requirements. Not only would this provide affordable housing for working people – it would also boost jobs in the construction sector.
“Low pay is endemic in Ireland: around 300,000 workers earn less than the recently calculated hourly Living Wage of €11.45 per hour. Not only does low pay depress the living standards of those directly affected – it is also an unsustainable burden on our economy.
“That is why Unite is proposing a package of measures – ranging from refundable tax credits to a reform of PRSI entry levels for low earners and a €1 increase in the Minimum Wage – which will put more money into the pockets of low earners. At the same time, we are proposing a phased-in increase in employers’ PRSI to fund Pay-Related Unemployment Benefit – ensuring that workers who lose their jobs do not face a sudden collapse in their living standards. Again, this would benefit the economy as a whole as well as the workers concerned. Measures such as the provision of affordable childcare places will also increase the disposable income of low earners, as well as providing employment and improving educational outcomes.
“Unite’s proposals are designed to generate a jobs-rich recovery that works for people – a working recovery”, Jimmy Kelly said.
Unite Research Officer Michael Taft added:
“Even with constrained budgetary conditions, the Government can still launch an expansionary programme of investment, increased wages and new public services and income support programmes. The debate over marginal changes in tax rates and tax bands diverts us from the real issue – that workers’ are not only subsidising an extremely low-level of contributions from employers and the corporate sector; they are now being asked to subsidise tax cuts which will undermine the Government’s ability to boost living standards. The key issues remain growth, employment and incomes”, Michael Taft said.