Free transport and USC near-abolition called for by People Before Profit
Party’s alternative €8bn budget seeks to tax plane fuel, bank profits and transactions
Brid Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny at People Before Profit’s launch of its pre-budget document. Photograph: Gareth Chaney
Free public transport and the abolition of the universal social charge on incomes below €90,000 are among the measures proposed by People Before Profit in their €8 billion alternative budget plan.
The party also proposes a €3.4 billion investment in the direct provision of public and affordable housing on public land and a €4 billion climate change package to address the “big twin emergencies we face”.
It says it would fund the plan, almost three times the Government’s €2.8 billion budget allocation, by closing corporate tax loopholes, introducing a 12.5 per cent levy on bank profits, taxing financial transactions and taxing aviation fuel.
The party’s Dún Laoghaire TD Richard Boyd Barrett said a radical rather than conservative budget was needed to deal with the multiple risks and challenges facing the State.
The free public transport proposal would cost an estimated €570 million on top of the current State subvention and would include an expanded transport fleet to meet the extra demand.
Mr Boyd Barrett said the abolition of the USC for people earning less than €90,000 was justified on the basis “the tax contribution of working people has increased since 2003 from €13 billion a year to €21 billion”.
But he said the richest 10 per cent have average wealth of €400,000 and average earnings of €180,000 compared to the median wage of about €29,000. He proposed four new tax bands for those on incomes above €100,000.
The 48-page document “System Change – An Alternative Budget for People” includes three pages of footnotes based on CSO figures, EU, Government and Central Bank reports and parliamentary replies. Mr Boyd Barrett said he produced the budget plan with an economist.
The investment in public and affordable housing would “pay for itself in a very short period of time through the phasing out of Haps [Housing Assistance Payments] which are ballooning and likely to reach €1 billion a year”.
Dublin South-Central TD Bríd Smith said a proposed 33 cent per litre tax on aviation fuel was based on EU estimates and would yield €900 million annually, compared to the Department of Finance’s estimate of €108 million for the carbon tax increase, which PBP opposes.
“We have to have measures that will bring our emissions down and we have never seen a reduction in our emissions with the existing carbon tax,” she said.
The party also proposes a major national home insulation programme of public and private housing.
Mr Boyd Barrett defended a proposed €500 million parcel of taxes on the agri-food sector, which is likely to be severely affected by Brexit.
He said the new levies on “largely untaxed profits” would be redirected to small farmers to boost their incomes and assist transition to sustainable farming practices.