Budget 2023 Does Not Fix the Key Structural Problems At the Heart of the Cost of Living Crisis -Tóibín
Speaking in advance of Budget 2023 Aontú Leader and Meath West Peadar Tóibín stated;
“Budget 2023 has been well leaked in advance and it raises a number of serious questions for struggling families and the health of the economy. The first glaring issue is the government’s refusal to fix certain key sectors. For example, the government has not sought to decouple the price of electricity from the price of gas. Unlike Spain and Portugal who were proactive on this the Irish government are leaving this to the EU. In terms of Electric Ireland making enormous profits, the government has refused to alter the regulatory rules so that prices can be lowered. The government will actually increase the cost of energy by increasing Carbon tax this year. Shannonbridge and Lanesborough plus restriction on turf sales have restricted the supply of energy adding to price increases and threatening supply. These are just five examples of upward pressure on the price of energy that are in the gift of the government fix but the government refused to act. Instead they will deal with it by the provisions of billions of euro into the economy. Fixing the supply side problems would have helped families without causing further inflationary pressures. A key question from today will be what are the inflationary outcomes of the government’s actions”.
“The government is increasing the number of people who have access to the GP card. Again on the face of it this seems like a positive action. But without increasing the supply of GPs this will increasing waiting times and delays for GPs. The government has form here. Before the summer they promised free school bus transport for families. Yet little work was done on the provision of bus capacity and a crisis was generated with children being left on the road side. Bus provision has just replaced the passport capacity fiasco that dogged the government for the last 2 years. Announcements with out working on capacity don’t help people”.
“The approach to Childcare is similar. Core funding is as much as 20 to 30% too low for many Early Years Learning and Childcare centres. This is especially the case for baby rooms that cost more too run. The government’s plan will create demand and lose supply in the Childcare sector with suppliers threatening to close for good. This budget also discriminates against many stay at home parents as it offers them nothing”.
“This budget was supposed to be about targeting supports for those who need it. Yet Pensions and Working age Social Welfare payments will not keep up with the rate of inflation. Just last week the government announced new pension plans and this week the government has undermined that plan by already allowing inflation to erode the value of that pension. The contrast between those on low incomes and the very wealthy could not be more be more. Every year more and more wealth is concentrating in the hands of fewer and few hands. The number of billionaires and they level of wealth they have is increasing, yet there is no plan to tax in in the mildest fashion that wealth. While those on the lowest incomes, those who are going hungry and cold will have an actual income reduction in this budget”.