Programme for government: ‘Well-being’ index to measure progress

Economy: The parties promise to ‘prioritise town centres’ and restore derelict buildings

There will be a review of the National Development Plan launched two year ago by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph:  Alan Betson / The Irish Times

There will be a review of the National Development Plan launched two year ago by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The first section of the draft programme for government says that a new system of measuring national progress is needed to supplement, but not replace, the existing economic measures.

It promises “a set of well-being indices to create a well-rounded, holistic view of how our society is faring” and “a balanced scorecard for each area of public policy focused on outcomes and the impact that those policies have on individuals and communities. Initially this will be focused on housing, education and health”.

The drawing up of these new measurements will be done in the Department of the Taoiseach in consultation with “a group of experts from the public service, academia, NGOs and the private sector to guide this work”.

The new government also promises to “prioritise town centres”, providing funding for bringing derelict buildings back into use.

It will publish the first “clean air strategy”, and also extend the ban on smoky coal to new towns and “move towards a full nationwide ban”.

Major changes are on the way in transport, and there will be a 2:1 split in capital spending on public transport and roads.

Some 10 per cent of the total transport capital budget will be spent on cycling and a further 10 per cent on walking infrastructure, amounting to €360 million per year. Every local authority will be required to introduce a plan to promote cycling. All children will be offered cycling training in school.

Public transport fares will be reviewed and a rural public transport service which connects localities to the public transport system will be developed.

The registration of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned after 2030 and they will be “phased out” in cities. All new buses are to be electric or hybrid and after 2025, public sector bodies will only be allowed to buy low or no-emission cars. Financial assistance will be offered to taxi drivers switching to electric cars.

On the economy, the document pledges to create 200,000 new jobs by 2025.

There will be a “July stimulus”, financed by a Recovery Fund, followed by a national economic plan published in the autumn in conjunction with the Budget. There will be continued support for SMEs, and special support for the hospitality, retail, entertainment and arts sectors.

The National Economic Plan will focus heavily on retraining and upskilling, and will include a plan to retrofit half a million homes by 2030.

The document promises to reduce the deficit once the impact of Covid-19 has passed, through tax and expenditure measures if necessary.

“We will utilise taxation measures, as well as expenditure measures, to close the deficit and fund public services if required. In doing so, we will focus any tax rises on those taxes which tax behaviours with negative externalities such as carbon tax, sugar tax, plastics, etc,” it says.

The government will retain the 12.5 corporation tax rate.

The document says the government will seek to negotiate a new public sector pay deal, but does not make any mention of pay rises due to public servants in the autumn.

Any “windfall” gains for the State from Nama or the sale of bank stakes will be used to reduce debt. A commission on welfare and taxation will be established. Most homeowners will face no increases in the local property tax, it promises, but new homes which are current exempt will be brought into the net.

There will be a review of the National Development Plan, with 2023 to be designated the “Year of the Invitation - a global invitation to visit Ireland on the 10-year anniversary of The Gathering”.

The document also promises to tackle insurance costs and develop a new national digital strategy.