Proposed measures also include increased Employer’s PRSI to fund range of benefits
The total budgetary package being proposed by Unite amounts to €4.8 billion.
On the expenditure side, Unite is proposing increased public expenditure on investment, public services and social protection of €1.925 billion together with the €700 million on the initiation of new public service programmes – affordable childcare, a cap on prescription medicine costs, and pay-related sickness and unemployment benefit. The union is also proposing tax reforms (elimination of the PRSI step effect, introduction of refundable tax credits, and index-linking of personal tax credits and the standard rate tax band) at a cost of €220 million; these measures would primarily benefit low earners.
Unite is proposing to raise €795 million through increased taxation of capital and wealth, and €700 million from increased Employer’s PRSI to fund the proposed new public service programmes.
In view of the housing and homelessness crisis, Unite is proposing a special temporary housing investment programme to tackle homelessness and provide housing for those with priority needs. The cost of this programme would be €2 billion, and it would be funded by the repayment of bank bailout funds.
Commenting on Unite’s proposals, the union’s Ireland Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“Once again, the public debate is dominated by a misleading narrative. Under austerity, the narrative was dominated by ‘there is no alternative’, or the mantra that spending cuts are better than tax increases. Today, the debate is dominated by the erroneous assertion that the Government is limited to fiscal adjustments (i.e. spending increases, tax cuts) of between €1.2 and €1.5 billion.
“This is not true. The Government can choose to redirect much greater resources into economic investment, public services and poverty reduction.
“All the evidence shows that investment actually reduces debt by driving productivity, while redistributing income from the highest income groups to the lowest income groups drives growth.
“Throughout the recession and the accompanying austerity policies, Unite continuously pointed out the benefits of economic and social investment. We will continue pushing an equality and investment agenda.
“As the economy slowly recovers – a recovery which has been delayed by austerity – we need to ensure that all share in the fruits of that recovery. As a society, we are confronting a housing and homelessness emergency. That is why Unite is proposing a special €2 billion temporary housing investment programme to address homelessness and provide housing for those with priority needs, funded by the anticipated bailout repayments from AIB and PTSB. Five years ago, the banks benefited from special once-off expenditure. Today, Unite is proposing a similar special once-off expenditure to help ensure the basic human need for shelter.
“After seven years of taking the wrong options, we have an opportunity to start making the right choices”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.