Far bigger 'hit' to those on lowest incomes


SOCIAL INJUSTICE:Budget 2013 will make Ireland a harsher society, will damage the economy and is “profoundly wrong”, according to Social Justice Ireland.

Speaking at a post-budget briefing, director of the campaign group Fr Seán Healy said for the second year in a row the Government had perpetrated a transfer of wealth from the poor to the prosperous.

“Budget 2012 saw 40 per cent of the population on lowest incomes take a far higher proportionate ‘hit’ than the richest 10 per cent. Budget 2013 continues this process.”

In particular he cited:

* the abolition of the weekly PRSI threshold for all workers earning more than €352 per week or €18, 304 per annum;

* further cuts to child benefit of €10 per child for the first and second children, of €18 for the third and €20 for fourth and subsequent children;

* the end of the €300 cost of education allowance which he said would impact on the unemployed and the poorest lone parents;

* the trebling of the prescription charge to €1.50 for medical card holders;

* the increase of the drug payment scheme threshold from €132 to €144.

He said wealthier households would be able to absorb cuts and tax rises.

“It is unjust that corporations maintain and receive tax relief in Budget 2013 while families continue to suffer the brunt of budgetary adjustments.”

He said despite Government claims that job creation was central to its agenda, its efforts failed to address the jobs crisis adequately.

Given that 64 per cent of private sector workers were employed in the non-exporting indigenous sector it was disappointing the budget would do nothing to boost domestic demand.

The provision of 10,000 additional labour activation places and €14 million for after-school childcare for parents engaged in the programmes, while welcome, “do not address the core needs of 193,000 people who are long-term unemployed”.

The still low tax base after this budget and the “over-emphasis on cutting expenditure” showed a lack of urgency about creating a job-creative society.

“Without investment there will be no jobs. Without jobs there will be no recovery. Without recovery Ireland will remain in austerity for the foreseeable future,” he said.