That’s not true Paschal. Those aged 18-24 are only getting an increase of €2.70 per week, bringing our total to €102.70 while those aged 26 and over are getting a €5 increase bringing them up to €193 per week. Why this discrimination Mr. Donohoe?
Surely you also want the over 25s to take them up too Leo? I don’t understand why we’re different? I’m an unemployed young person. I’ve got an undergraduate degree from Trinity College, a Master’s from University College London, and experience in my field.
I’ve been granted one job interview in the last 2 months despite myriad job applications.
Where are these jobs you’re talking about Mr. Varadkar? Because at the moment I really need one of them. At the moment I’m living in Dublin because it’s where all of these alleged jobs are on offer. Dublin… where rents are sky high, Dublin… where you’ve got to take our expensive public transport to get to your one job interview in the last two months, Dublin… where I’m given €102.70 a week and told I should be able to live on it.
Jobseeker’s allowance is there to help us look for jobs, to feed us, to have some semblance of a happy existence. Mr. Varadkar, why do you want to hinder me and not help me?
It’s all starting to get a bit mad now Mr. Noonan. I’ve got a degree in maths and psychology and a Master’s of Science and you want me to get more education. I’ve got plenty of education Mr. Noonan, some might say I have too much. I don’t need more education, what I need is the support to find a job.
The question I find myself answering now is, why am I still here? My family is here, my girlfriend is here, my friends are here… for God’s sake, Ireland is my home, Mullingar is my home, Dublin is my home. I want to stay and contribute to society. I don’t want to have to emigrate.
I just need a little more money to help me look for the right job. I promise that if you help me out for the next little while I’ll pay it all back and more when I’ve a job.
Being a young jobseeker in Ireland isn’t sustainable at the moment. It’s getting to the point where it feels like I’ve no other choice but to leave my home behind and seek work abroad.
Following feedback from the Irish-language and the Gaeltacht community since the announcement of Budget 2017 yesterday it is clear that the Government has let the Irish-language and the Gaeltacht community down badly in the budget for next year.
The Government is refusing to fund even the first stage of an investment plan agreed by 80 Irish-language and Gaeltacht groups that would create 1,175+ jobs and many opportunities for the public to use Irish. The proposal had been made that the funding of this plan could be done by reversing some of the cuts made since 2008 to Irish-language and Gaeltacht authorities.
The Foras na Gaeilge budget and the capital investment fund of Údarás na Gaeltachta, the body charged with creating employment in Gaeltacht areas, have in total been reduced by over 50% since 2008. There was €0 of new extra funding announced by the Government for these vitally important budgets in 2017.
This will mean that Foras na Gaeilge will have to continue with its cut backs of community projects, and the Údarás will not be able to create any new additional jobs in the Gaeltacht in 2017; the 2017 budget document states that an employment base of 7,000 jobs in the Gaeltacht will be maintained.
Cherubic Broadsheet arts writer Mike McGrath-Bryan removes his headphones (for once) to provides a response to Budget 2017 and its implications for his generation.
Ignore him at your peril.
If you’re under twenty-six in this country, the message of #budget2017 is clear, as it was to me and my friends eight years ago. You’re a second-class citizen, and continued austerity measures are driving you either back to your parents’ house to wait your turn in life, or to the airport.
Having struggled with employment your entire adult life so far, as well as the spiralling cost to yourself or your family of education, you have found that your social welfare only increases by €2.70, as opposed to €5.
This at a time when centrists boast openly of recovery (with Noonan, in fact warning of “prudence” after giving himself and the lads payrises), and an economy built on the tech sector that you’re expected to carry the can for “going forward” if you do decide to stay.
Mostly run by companies exploiting a “knowledge development box” to specifically avoid paying the taxes necessary to run public services, that are then subsequently threatened with privatisation in the face of… austerity. Or malfunctioning ideology.
A knowledge economy which they somehow expect to build, in spite of the underwhelming announcement of €36m for third-level education, falling two-thirds short of recommendations at a time when the sector is badly starved of resources after a decade of cuts.
Partly due to a privatisation drive from neo-liberal elements of academia’s top-brass, and in line with the mood of the political and economic elite, they do so with the support of Young Fine Gael and other Christmas-partial turkeys among your number.
By the way, they’ll soon be expecting you to pay massively inflated student loans instead of receiving a grant, because it’s all worked so well in the US. and the UK. to lower the economic and class barriers to entry.
And it’s a landlord’s budget for sure, this year – going to college is all fine and well, if you or someone close to you can afford your fees and upkeep.
If you/they can’t, then aside from the obvious knock-on of working student life affecting your grades and ultimately your whole degree, you’re contending with a ridiculous wringing of cash from desperate people that’s beginning to eclipse the boomtimes.
When/if you do graduate, what’s there for you? Well, as stated, you’re going headfirst into the field of your choice, where at many points of entry, you’re still expected to work for free, and continue to afford living in an increasingly precarious property bubble while doing so.
Whether it’s the ongoing drudge of unpaid internship, or whatever they concoct to replace JobBridge, dues-paying in your industry is now firmly ensconced as literal as well as allegorical.
If times get tough, all roads lead to call centres, the modern-day factories, where you get by on babysitting seething, infantile manifestations of first-world problems over the phone.
To say nothing of the pace of promotion should one choose to stay in the relative security of the aforementioned. And your reward for this grind? In this year’s budget, half a percent off the USC that was originally “an emergency measure” eight years ago, again, against a debt you did nothing to create.
And what about alternative/freelance career choices. Should you try and at least attempt to establish some sort of sustainability for your creative outlets or other talents, you’ll soon find the arts have been reduced to a sideshow in the Budget by an establishment that knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
Without so much as a dedicated governmental department, artists of various media find themselves scrapping for inconsistent funding annually, with only a comparatively incremental increase despite the arts turning over treble their public investment on average, and forming a major part of this country’s all-important tourist attraction.
Your writer’s personal interests aside, let’s mosey along to those of you in your late twenties.
Having been denied opportunities at work, seen scutter made of the sustainability of your creative outlets, and with everyone around you voting for parties that roast you on a spit for staying in this country, you are perhaps now beginning to feel the societal pressure to “settle down”, enter massive mortgage debt and procreate, for the perpetuation of the way of things.
Should you choose to indulge this, you’re expected to buy a house, with a massive loan over several decades, and if the banks that *your* tax money bailed out will lend, the Budget’s much-hyped benefits for first-time buyers only apply to those expensive new-build units, because you have to incentivise those developers that put your generation in this mess in the first place for some reason.
What of your own personal coping mechanisms with the weight of all of these betrayals and aggressions? What of those of us dealing with them at the end of a period of prolonged austerity? How do you get through the grind?
How many under-30s in this country have lost friends and family to suicide, illness and emigration? What’s in the plans for the long-term social damage inflicted by a “lost decade”?
Scant mention made, if anything of substance, the year after then-Health Minister Leo Varadkar decided to divert ringfenced mental-health funding elsewhere, a move Simon Harris was compelled to reverse more by public pressure, one suspects, than by ethical imperative.
I can hear the gears turning a mile off. Same old arguments. Still getting the like of “Why don’t you leave?”, etc. Accusations of “populism”, as though elitism hasn’t resulted in the current mess. A spiel that every young person has had thrown at them in the past decade.
Why should we keep leaving, why should we keep settling for less, why should we toil away at dead end jobs and keep hoping that we won’t open up our social media and see our friends/peers talking about the latest person they’ve lost?
This is our country too, whose future rests in our hands. These are our families and friends, our communities, our scenes and our stories. And you will hear from us soon.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe leaving RTÉ studios in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, where they appeared on the Seán O’Rourke show (top) for the annual post-budget phone-in.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rogan, in The Times Ireland edition, reports:
RTE confirmed yesterday that Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe would be shown listeners’ questions in advance of appearing on this morning’s call-in show on Today with Sean O’Rourke.
Ministers were criticised last year when The Times reported that advisers for Mr Noonan and Brendan Howlin, the then public expenditure minister, were shown questions from the public before their appearance on the programme the day after the budget was unveiled.
A reporter from The Times witnessed conversations between RTE staff and departmental advisers after being shown into the wrong room. The unnoticed reporter watched as an adviser with the Department of Finance warned RTE personnel that the ministers would not do the interview unless the questions were provided.
Government TDs and ministers arrive at Leinster House ahead of the announcement of Budget 2017.
From top:Minister of State for Disability Issues and Independent Alliance TD Finian McGrath, Health Minister and Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, Arts Minister and Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys, Foreign Affairs Minister and Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, Sports Minister and Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross, Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Finance Minister and Fine Gael TD Michael Noonan.
The man with two phones Taoiseach Enda Kenny also arriving at Leinster House this morning.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe will present Budget 2017 from 1pm.
From top: Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit press conference yesterday with from left: Ruth Coppinger, Richard Boyd Barrett, Brid Smith and Paul Murphy; Paul Murphy
Today’s budget debate will largely be a charade.
Paul Murphy writes:
‘Fiscal space’ – it is a trick of misdirection worthy of Houdini. What one issue stood out most in this year’s pre-budget discussion? A debate about whether pensioners or people with disabilities or carers deserve a €5 increase more.
This is the fiscal space and neo-liberal economics in action – artificially creating scarcity and pitting people against each other to fight over who gets what.
It has served to focus discussion on how to share out the relative crumbs of €1.2 billion instead of the total cake of over €230 billion of economic output or a discussion on what kind of economy or society we want.
Years of austerity and regressive budgets have driven inequality to a point where the richest 10% of the population now control 54% net wealth, leaving just 5% for the bottom 50% of the population. Workers’ wages remain lower than in 2008 and have fallen as a percentage of GDP from 53% in 2008 to a projected 40.1% next year.
At the same time, corporate profits rose from €35bn in 2009 to €51bn in 2014 and €75bn in 2015. That is austerity in action – shifting wealth from wages to profits. The fiscal space straitjacket is designed to ensure that continues.
The consequence is a cost of living crisis for workers who are faced with low wages, soaring rents and underfunded public services resulting in unaffordable prices for necessities like childcare.
On the other hand, corporations with soaring profits are guaranteed by Michael Noonan that their tax rate on profits “never has been and never will be up for discussion.”
Instead of tinkering at the edges, we set out to outline how vast resources and wealth exist in this country and could be used to transform Ireland from a fiscal paradise for corporations into a socialist green economy that could work for all.
The centre-piece is the need for a break with the capitalist developmental model based on attracting foreign multinationals with low or non-existent corporation tax, low regulation and wages.
That failure is clear when nearly 60 years after attracting foreign capital with tax breaks was presented as a temporary measure to give the economy a boost,
Michael Noonan is still talking about FDI as the “seed potatoes” of economic development. It has resulted in a weak domestic private sector and a basket case economy – where growth figures have no relationship to the reality of the economy or people’s lives.
While the government and Fianna Fail fought over how to spend €1.2 billion, we proposed raising an additional €25 billion in tax and spending an additional €24 billion.
We targeted the raising of at least an additional €4 billion from corporations through a combination of closing tax loopholes like the ‘Double Irish’ and the ‘Knowledge Development Box’ and increasing corporation tax rates.
Although it has largely fallen out of public debate, the question of odious unjust debt and the need to burn the bondholders hasn’t gone away.
The state continue to spend €1 in ever €10 in tax raised on debt servicing – for debt that largely arises from the banking crisis and is not ours. We put forward a strategy of debt repudiation, which would conservatively save at least €3.22 billion.
To fund the scrapping of austerity taxes for working people – water charges, property and the USC, we put forward a series of other taxation measures.
These include the introduction of a Millionaire’s Tax of 2% on net assets exceeding €1 million, which would raise €2.92 billion, a Landlord’s Tax on non family homes, which would raise €450 million and a High-Income Social Charge and new rates of marginal tax on high levels of income to replace the Universal Social Charge and raise €2.33 billion.
In addition, we pointed to the almost €9 billion available in NAMA and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund. These are funds that are not allowed to be invested because of the ‘Expenditure Benchmark’ Fiscal Rule.
That rule must be broken and those funds used to fund major capital programmes – in housing, renewable energy, water, health and childcare.
While the government continues to treat the housing and homeless crisis as a market problem that needs a market solution, planning to bring in a new first time buyers grant, we took a completely different approach. The state should simply use €4.5 billion of those resources to build 20,000 and acquire 30,000 vacant units and use them as public homes to tackle the housing crisis.
Instead of treating our two-tier health service as an inevitability, we advocated spending an additional €3 billion on health in 2017, as part of developing a National Health Service in Ireland.
That would fund an additional 1,000 acute beds, 5,000 additional healthcare workers, the abolition of prescription charges and the allocation of an additional €200 million to mental health, alongside many other measures.
Instead of subsidising private childcare, we argued for €2 billion investment in the building of a public childcare service, free at the point of access. In addition, we called for additional investment of more than €1 billion into education, providing genuinely free education at all levels, with free school books, an end to voluntary contributions and all third level fees.
In addition, we budgeted €2.19 billion for an end to pay inequality in the public sector between older and more recent entrants and an immediate restoration of pay to 2008 levels.
Finally, as a crucial part of a strategy of transforming the economy along environmentally sustainable socialist lines, based on public ownership, we argue for investment of €3 billion directly by the state in renewable energy, water infrastructure, forestry and green agri-food.
All of this can seen a bit fantastical and undoubtedly will be portrayed as such by the media, if they bother to look outside the fiscal space. It is designed to provoke – to push the boundaries of debate out of the fiscal space and to illustrate the immense wealth that does exist.
The central point is that the obstacle to resolving the many social crises in Ireland is not an absence of resources – it is the fact that their ownership is concentrated in the hands of the big corporations and the super-rich.
The financial resources that could be raised through the taxation measures mentioned are only a small fraction of the resources that could be utilised by a left government with socialist policies to transform people’s lives. For example, using the banking system as a democratic public utility could mean a transformation in terms of public investment.
Public ownership of the key sectors of the economy would enable a paradigm shift to an economy based on renewable energy and sustainable growth – a socialist green economy.
Today’s budget debate will largely be a charade. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil both invited Ireland’s very own Donald Trump, Michael O’Leary, to give them anti-worker, pro-big business addresses.
They will pass a budget that serves his interests. Labour will feign opposition to the very approach it was implementing one year ago. Sinn Féin will oppose much of the budet, but its acceptance of the parameters of fiscal space and the rules of capitalism means they cannot offer a radical alternative.
The outlines of such an alternative is offered in the AAA-PBP budget statement. It requires a mass movement of the left in Ireland to make a left government with radical socialist politics a real possibility.
Paul Murphy is a TD Anti Austerity Alliance. Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulmurphy/AAA
From top: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, and Dr Rory Hearne
There’s been a rise in the number of people who, having experienced years of austerity, are demanding a more central role for the State and protective public services. This should be reflected in tomorrow’s budget.
Dr Rory Hearne writes:
Another opinion poll, this latest one from the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI, shows that “a large majority of voters favour increasing spending on public services and welfare ahead of reducing taxes and charges”.
Tomorrow’s Budget should reflect this public mood and provide a very significant increase in investment in key public services and infrastructure, particularly housing, a reversal of regressive austerity measures and outline a plan for the restructuring of the Irish economy away from failed neoliberalism towards a more social economy model of development.
According to this latest poll in the Irish Times, when offered a menu of choices between tax reductions and spending increases and asked to pick one priority, “voters overwhelmingly prefer spending increases in a variety of areas, with by far the biggest preference being for increasing spending on healthcare”.
The aggregate support for tax cuts was only 19 per cent (including income tax at just 7 per cent and the reduction or abolition of the USC at 10 per cent). While support for increased public spending was over three times that, at 72 per cent (with healthcare the highest at 29 per cent and housing and homelessness next, at 14 per cent).
So this shows support for increased spending on healthcare is four times greater than that for cuts to income taxes and support for investment in housing is double that for cuts to income tax.
The most significant aspect of this poll is that it confirms a trend of the changing attitude amongst a majority of the Irish public towards our economy and the role of the state, expressed through attitudes to public services.
It shows that a new popular ‘common sense’ has emerged in Ireland where a majority of people, having experienced the harsh reality of crisis, austerity and a laissez-faire economy, are demanding a more central role for the state and protective public services.
For example, an opinion poll commissioned by TASC in June 2015 showed that 70% of people felt the government should prioritise investing in public services rather than spending money to cut income taxes (this poll also found that 50% of respondents were willing to pay higher taxes to improve public services, and 63% supported an increase in the tax rate for high earners (over €100,000 per annum).
Furthermore, a recent Eurobarometer poll, showed that the issues of main concern to the public in Ireland are housing (34%), health and social security (29%) and unemployment (32%) in contrast to tax (at just 9%).
The trend in these polls, expressed also as a key message from the public in February’s General election, is that the Irish people increasingly want to see accessible and high quality universal public services (particularly health care and housing) and they see investment in these as a priority over tax cuts.
These views are even more significant when we consider the lack of comprehensive, well-funded and universal public services in Ireland and the growing drive toward privatisation and commercialisation.
We have some excellent quality public services – in education, transport, areas of the health service and local authorities, and semi-state agencies such as the ESB.
But many citizens also have negative experiences of long waiting times to access these services (hospitals) or are excluded from them (e.g. social and affordable housing).
This is because we have the lowest level of public expenditure as a proportion of GDP in the entire EU. We also have the lowest level of investment in infrastructure in the history of the state.
And this public opinion is being formed in spite of the mainstream media, economics and government policy continuing to promote the Celtic Tiger obsession with ‘tax cuts’ and a ‘low tax’ economy as part of a laissez-faire, neoliberal, economic policies.
These espouse private market solutions, privatisation, minimising investment and underfunding of basic services, and promoting the monetisation and financialisation of public services by facilitating and supporting the ‘for-profit’ commercial private sector through PPPs and other mechanisms.
These policies have contributed to the multiple social and economic crises our citizens face such as rising poverty and deprivation, our housing crisis, lack of health care, unaffordable childcare, regional underdevelopment (through lack of public investment in infrastructure) and a lack of state investment in research and development and support for indigenous sustainable businesses (rather than an over reliance on foreign investment).
Budget 2017 is being introduced at a time of rising inequality in Ireland despite the so-called ‘recovery’, the legacy of the recession and austerity years (visible in 29% of the population suffering deprivation – with lone parent households, at 58.7% and children at 36.1%, most affected), a cost of living 25% above the EU average, a national housing emergency, precarious work, unemployment, and regional underdevelopment.
This Budget therefore, should reflect the public’s very sensible demand for greater investment in public services, and provide a ‘new deal’ for Ireland with a large scale public investment plan, beyond anything currently being considered, such as TASC has proposed in A Time for Ambition: Ensuring prosperity through investment.
This should go considerably beyond the narrowly defined (and misleading) ‘fiscal space’.
Restrictions of budgetary discussions to what is possible within the defined ‘fiscal space’ has foreclosed the discussion of the many real and viable alternative approaches to fiscal and budgetary policy that are available to the government beyond the fiscal space.
For example, we could substantially increase investment beyond the €1.2bn ‘fiscal space’ if the decision was made to retain the USC, or to introduce a wealth tax, close the tax reliefs that benefit the better off, raise employer’s PRSI, if the decision was taken to borrow for investment or use funding returning from the banks for public investment instead of debt repayments.
Flexibility on EU fiscal rules could be sought (and more are likely to be achieved given the post-Brexit and European and global economic crisis – see below) to facilitate this investment, if necessary.
There is growing support at European and indeed, global, level favouring such radical public investment plans to address the twin crises of stagnant growth and rising inequality.
This perspective was provided in the Financial Times recently. Firstly, a former US Treasury secretary wrote that,
“After seven years of economic over-optimism there is a growing awareness that challenges are not so much a legacy of the financial crisis as of deep structural changes in the global economy…concretely, this means rejecting austerity economics in favour of investment economics…Enhancing infrastructure investment in the public and private sector should be a fiscal policy priority…And the focus of international economic co-operation more generally needs to shift from opportunities for capital to better outcomes for labour.”
While, Wolfgang Münchau, the FT associate editor wrote:
“From an economic point of view there is nothing extreme in the argument for large investment programmes, especially after years of fiscal consolidation….the overwhelming consensus in favour of centrist libertarian economic polities is breaking down.”
Furthermore, public investment (and the necessary taxation to fund it) is not, as it is often portrayed, a ‘cost’ or ‘unaffordable’ as it provides many multiples of return on its investment (through various multipliers particularly in areas of housing, childcare, etc).
Public services such as health care, education, and welfare, along with public investment in infrastructure such as housing, water, and transport play a vital role in addressing inequality in society and are a key mechanism by which to achieve sustainable and socially inclusive economic development.
This Budget should, therefore, be used as an opportunity to change our dominant economic and fiscal policy which is worsening economic inequality and move it closer to that of countries such as Sweden and Denmark, that have substantially higher levels of investment in public services, and, as a result, have more stable economic growth, are much more equal and have less social problems.
Dr Rory Hearne is a Senior Policy Analyst with TASC and co-author of Cherishing All Equally 2016: Economic Inequality in Ireland