Date Released: 16 October 2013
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said today (October 16) that the Government had made the wrong choices in Budget 2014 and insisted that any investment programme should prioritise the creation of decent jobs to ensure sustainable recovery.
At a Post-Budget briefing, Congress Assistant General Secretary, Sally Anne Kinahan, said: “Despite the strictures of the bailout programme, the Government had choices with as a result of the Promissory Note deal. They took the wrong options.
“We have to be clear that they are still extracting €2.5 billion from the economy over the next 12 months and implementing cuts that do not have to be made. That brings the cumulative amount extracted since 2009 to €33.2 billion,” Kinahan said.
“Congress set an out alternative course, in our Pre-Budget Submission. We showed how a smaller ‘adjustment’ of €2 billion was more likely to reach the deficit targets, while a package of new tax measures targeted at high earners would have made the cuts announced yesterday totally unnecessary.
“For example, a wealth tax could have raised upwards of €150 million.
“In addition, our plan envisaged a job creation and investment programme of €4.5 billion that would have raised the numbers at work by some 40,000. Every 10,000 people off the live register and back in employment means a net gain to the exchequer of some €200 million, Ms Kinahan said.
She said it was estimated that the cuts in Budget 2014 could result in the loss of between 25,000-30,000 jobs, while the continued decline in Public Capital Investment, makes recovery far more difficult to achieve.
“The Strategic Investment Fund is an initiative that we campaigned for, and we welcome it. But we need to ensure any investment programme prioritises the creation of decent work and decent jobs to ensure sustainable recovery, she said.
The issues about which Congress raised concerns are:
The reduction in Jobseekers Allowance is difficult to understand at a time when there are 30 applicants for every vacancy. This cut could increase poverty and social exclusion amongst younger people.
The funding announced for the Youth Guarantee - €14 million – is insufficient to meet the scale of the challenge.
The failure to address the impact of changes to the state pension age, which will leave many in a financial ‘no-man’s land’ upon retirement.
Standardising maternity benefit at €230 per week is anti-women and anti-family as it means a reduction of €32 per week for the vast majority of women.
A further cut in the subsidy for public transport providers will almost certainly result in a rise in fares and a further rise in the cost of living and going to work.
Additional funding for Early Years education is welcome, but it falls short of the level of investment needed if we are to bring about a significant improvement in quality standards. Our investment in early care and education services is less than half the internationally recognised standard.
Disability groups have expressed disappointment at the Government’s failure to protect and invest in people with disabilities and their families in Budget 2014. The social infrastructure that exists to support them has been decimated and the initiatives in Budget 2014 do too little to reverse that.
The cut in the Overseas Aid Budget for the sixth year in a row means it has fallen by 34.6% since 2008. The world’s poorest are making a disproportionate contribution to our crisis.
Congress said that Budget 2014 had some worthwhile measures, such as:
The establishment of the Strategic Investment Fund – for which Congress campaigned – is welcome, But we need to see detail on how quickly the €6.5 billion can be put to work creating jobs.
The extension of free GP to all children under five years of age, is to be welcomed.
Renewed recruitment in health, education and the Garda Siochana is a positive step.