Budget 2017: Independents unimpressed

Independents and anti-austerity TDs claim budget fails to deal with deprivation

Independent TDs Denis Naughten, Michael Harty, Michael Collins and Noel Grealish. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Independent TDs Denis Naughten, Michael Harty, Michael Collins and Noel Grealish. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The budget’s housing provisions were strongly criticised by Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) TD Richard Boyd Barrett. He said there would be 1,500 directly built council houses next year.

“Let us put that in context,’’ he said. “There is a housing list of nearly 160,000; in my Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency alone, there are more than 6,000 people on the list.’’

Mr Boyd-Barrett said the entire new build of local authority housing next year would not even cut by half the housing list in his area. He said €100 million under housing assistance was going to private landlords, while they received €137 million under the rental accommodation scheme.

“There is €200 million in infrastructural grants going to private developers and landlords supposedly to encourage them to provide affordable housing,’’ he said.

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan said people had been subjected to horrendous budgets for a number of years and the “hard-hitting’’ was disproportionate. Those with the least suffered the most, she added. She said recent events in Dublin’s north-inner city had shown the cumulative effect of the cuts and how they contributed to further social exclusion, deprivation and hardship.

Ms O’Sullivan said there was need for a mechanism for constant monitoring and evaluation of budget measures to see if they were making a difference. People, she said, got lost in the figures and there was a need for the equality proofing of budgets.

AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy said unemployed young people would receive an increase of €2.70 in the jobseeker’s allowance, not the €5 indicated before the budget by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe. It would not equal the pay increases of €226 due to Ministers and the €104 to TDs.

“Not only did the Government decide not to undo the discrimination against young unemployed people, but it decided to double down on it by making the gap with other payments even greater,’’ Mr Murphy said.