12 October 2016
By Tom Collins
Labour TD and Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Seán Sherlock , has highlighted how thin the Government has spread the ‘fiscal space’ in the Budget announced yesterday.
“The immediate aftermath of a Budget announcement tends to focus on top-line figures in the areas of Social Protection and Excise Duties, along with some media friendly policies,” said Deputy Sherlock.
“The cold light of day analysis of the figures shows how thinly the Government has spread, despite the ‘savings’ of €200 million that was found last Friday.
A budget that seeks to be all things to all people will be nothing to anybody. This is a budget that misdirects resources in its scatter-gun approach. It provides an additional €50 million plus for child care services and over €25 million for a sheep scheme. It does very little by way of an impact on child care.“Budget 2016 provided for an increase in the old age pension. Last year the Labour Party was excoria ted in every constituency by Fianna Fáil for having only given old age pensioners a miserly €3 extra in their pension payments.
When one weighs up the increase in the Christmas bonus and looks at the €3 increase for those on the pension, it amounted to an increase over a full 52 weeks of €271. People from Fianna Fáil went out and did battle for the €5 increase. The net result of this Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael budget will be a total net increase, when one adds in the Christmas bonus and the €5 from 1 March, of €245. In fact, the cumulative or net increase in 2017 is less than the net increase in 2016. That is not taking into account the increase in the fuel allowance last year, which I see no evidence of this year.
Where is the money that will follow A Vision for Change? Where is the money for mental health? The former Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch, did battle internally and with our friends in Fine Gael to protect a mental health budget but I see no real m onetary mention of in this budget.
There is provision for 680 new teachers to meet demographic demands. That is not new and, as such, I would not be trumpeting it as an innovative measure. More teachers are needed as the population increases in any event.
Something beyond the mere demographic adjustment was required. We all recognise that every budget allows for demographic changes but it is necessary to be a little bit more imaginative than that.”