Budget 2017 favours wealthier people, Social Justice Ireland says

Measures have done nothing to safeguard against deepening inequality, organisation says

14/10/2015 - NEWS - Politics  Social Justice Ireland   Dr Sean Healy, Director, at the presentation of the Social Justice Ireland  Analysis and Critique of Budget 2016. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

14/10/2015 - NEWS - Politics Social Justice Ireland Dr Sean Healy, Director, at the presentation of the Social Justice Ireland Analysis and Critique of Budget 2016. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Tax measures introduced in Budget 2017 disproportionately favour wealthier people with nothing done to safeguard against deepening inequality, Social Justice Ireland has said.

In a detailed response to yesterday’s announcement, the organisation rounded on the Government for not doing enough to protect the country’s most vulnerable.

In particular, it set is focus on tax policies and said the finer points of fiscal policy lacked coherence.

With regard to the reduction in the Universal Social Charge (USC) and income tax, Social Justice Ireland said it clearly had a greater benefit for those earning more money.

Alternatively, the cost of these cuts to the exchequer could have made tax credits refundable and given every taxpayer an additional credit of €100 per year, it said.

“In practice this would have meant that everyone would be €100 better off while the working poor would gain a little more,” the group claimed in its 24-page critique published on Wednesday.

“There is an urgent need to ensure that the annual Budget does not increase inequality, but rather reduces it, in particular that it reduces poverty among all groups living in this situation,” it said.

“Budget 2017 has not taken any significant initiative to measure whether or not poverty and inequality will fall rather than rise as a result of the overall impact of the decisions taken.”

Corporate tax

Social Justice Ireland said the budget has failed to broaden the tax base and also criticised the Government on failing to address the issue of corporate tax.

The recent European Commission findings on Apple, it noted, had moved the “focus of international attention [AND WAS]becoming more and more damaging to the international reputation of Ireland”.

It said a minimum effective corporate tax rate 6 per cent should have been implemented.

As one of the most critical social issues in Ireland today, Social Justice Ireland said the social housing issue had lacked policy coherence - the long range housing provision target of 47,000 by 2021 would fall short of what is needed.

Elsewhere, it criticised an apparent lack of moves on climate change issues and said that while a sugar tax was a welcome proposition its delay in implementation, until 2018, was a “missed opportunity”.

“There is a lack of coherence in the Budget’s decisions on healthcare,” said Social Justice Ireland director Dr Seán Healy.

“Additional resources are being made available to address waiting lists, to provide medical cards to all children in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance, to promote health and wellbeing and to assist older people and people with disabilities.

“However, sufficient funding has not been provided to maintain the existing level of service. This makes no sense.”