Opposition politicians and campaign groups have reacted to Tuesday’s budget.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett claimed the budget will be “hopelessly inadequate” when it comes to dealing with the crises in the cost of living, housing and health.
Speaking ahead of the budget he described expected €5 increases in welfare payments and the State pension as “insulting” and predicted that there will be nothing announced to address the rental crisis.
He said the €1.5 billion the Government will use for discretionary spending is “billions short” of what is needed.
Mr Boyd-Barrett argued that the Government has the option of increasing taxes on the profits of corporations and the wealth of the “super rich” and this would have “given us the billions we need... to give the poorest and most vulnerable a real break”.
He claimed: “this is a pathetic, hopelessly inadequate budget of crumbs that is going to leave people bitterly disappointed.”
His party colleague Paul Murphy claimed the Government is "patting themselves on the back with what is becoming the national fiver day."
He said that this increase for people on welfare payments and the State pension is “less than the rate of inflation” and “it means in real terms people’s incomes are being cut... they’ll be driven into further crisis.”
Solidarity TD Mick Barry claimed that after the budget: "The rich will stay rich, the poor will stay poor and many, many people will freeze in their homes this winter. And some of them will die."
Patricia King of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) expressed surprise at such “regressive” measures with regard to tax bands.
Ms King said the budget would be of “no benefit to people who earn less than €35,000”.
“For lower paid workers the tax credit would be only €50, it is more advantageous for higher paid people.
“That’s quite regressive.”
According to Ms King, there are 725,000 people earning €398 per week or less. There was an opportunity, she said, to improve the situation for those on such a wage, adding that the budget should have been more equitable.
Co-leader of the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall said that, overall, the budget was disappointing.
The changes to the tax system would mean very little to those on low pay, she said and in the context of the substantial increase in the cost of living, it would be very little help.
The increase in minimum wage was a “paltry” 30 cent per hour, she added.
Ms Shortall said it would have been better to put the funds into the public sector.
She expressed disappointment that the age for free GP care for children went only to 7 years and said it should have gone to 12 years, in line with other European countries.
Ms Shortall was critical of the Government’s move to tackle hospital waiting lists with a fund of €200 million. She said it was “throwing money at the problem without reform. That doesn’t do anything.”
Labour’s Ged Nash said the impact of the rising cost of fuel had not been taken into account in this year’s budget.
Frances Byrne of Early Childhood Ireland welcomed the statement of intention about “year-on-year reform”, which was really important.
She said she hoped it would bring with it certainty for childcare providers and that it would lead Ireland eventually to a Scandinavian-style childcare system.