October 4th: Unite today urged the Government not to sacrifice public services in the rush to cut taxes ahead of the General Election. The union’s Ireland Secretary Jimmy Kelly warned that low income earners in particular would see little or no improvement in their living standards from either cutting income tax or the Universal Social Charge. At the same time, he said, tax cuts represent a missed opportunity to invest in public services – investment which would benefit everyone, but especially low and middle income earners. Unite’s proposals for Budget 2016, An Investment and Equality Agenda, are available for download here.
“Now that we are emerging from recession, the focus must be on improving living standards for working people, rather than on populist tax cuts which will further undermine the public services and income supports on which people depend – services which were hollowed out by a series of austerity budgets.
“Tax cuts won’t address the real problems in living standards such as the high cost of childcare, housing, healthcare, education and public transport. These require social and economic investment – and that will be made more difficult by a tax-cutting agenda.
“Budgets are about choices. The Government can spend €750 million on tax cuts – or, for the same price, it could:
- Reduce childcare costs by €200 per month
- Provide 2,500 immediate homes for the homes
- Provide free primary education by eliminating school transport, textbook and classroom resource fees
- Reverse the cuts to Lone Parents payments
- Provide a ‘cost of disability’ payment to those unable to work due to disability or illness, and
- Provide a 3% weekly increase in social protection payments.
“Working people need investment in housing, health, affordable childcare, transport and all the other services on which we depend. Working people need the abolition of water charges. What working people do not need is tax cuts which will disproportionally benefit those at the very top of the income pyramid”, Jimmy Kelly said.