Budget 2017: Unite calls for expenditure package of €2.8 billion

unite-white-out-of-redUnite’s proposals focus on investment and raising living standards

Union seeks restoration of Social Protection payments, increased Employer’s PRSI to fund Social Wage

September 12th:  Unite today published its 2017 Pre-Budget Submission.  Entitled 5 Steps to a Better Budget, the union’s proposals focus on investment in our social and economic infrastructure coupled with measures to improve living standards.  A summary of the proposals, submitted last month to the Department of Finance, is available here.

Key recommendations include a €650 million increase in public investment; the roll-out of pay-related social insurance benefits funded by an increase in Employer’s PRSI; an Emergency Housing Programme funded from repayments of bank bailout funds; an €850 million increase in public service expenditure with a particular focus on education and primary health care; and a €6.50 increase in basic Social Protection rates, fully restoring them to 2009 levels over three years.

The total expenditure package proposed by Unite is €2.837 billion, with revenue-raising measures, including the fiscal space, totalling €2.843 billion.  Revenue-raising proposals include a 1 % wealth tax on financial and real assets above €1 million; a new higher rate of Employer’s PRSI in respect of all income above €80,000 and a phasing out of the temporary VAT reduction on hospitality.

While not strictly part of Budget 2017, Unite is also calling on the Government to reject the recent recommendation by the Low Pay Commission, and increase the National Minimum Wage by at least 50 cent.

Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:

“The priority in Budget 2017 must be investment – investment in our infrastructure (water, broadband, transport, green energy) and in our people through an expanded education budget.  Social and economic investment are the main drivers of long-term sustainable growth.

“The housing crisis is one of the greatest social issues confronting us, which is why Unite is proposing a three-year Emergency Housing Investment Programme funded by the repayment of bank bail-out funds.

“We need to ensure that our social protection system does what it’s supposed to do: protect people in periods of uncertainty or change such as unemployment, illness or family formation.  That is why Unite is proposing rolling out an increase in employer’s social insurance to fund pay-related benefits such as unemployment and sickness benefit, and maternity benefit.  At the same time, we are seeking an increase in basic Social Protection rates to start restoring rates to their 2009 levels.  Like investment, protecting and improving living standards is crucial to our long-term sustainable growth.

“Unite believes that the proposals outlined in our submission would not only ensure a sustainable recovery, but would also ensure that the fruits of that recovery are shared equally”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.

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