budget 2023 is billed as a "give away". but, it fails - in spades!
Dave Smyth writes about the recently announced Irish budget and why it won't and can't work
While commentators, those in the media who facilitate them and establishment TD's & ministers queue up in front of any
camera or microphone that they can find and gobble up as many column inches as they can to promote the budget
announced on 27th September and sold as a "giveaway", let's take a deeper look.
With plenty of headline grabbing "one off" payments and so-called bonuses for people already living in or close to poverty,
there have been no real policy changes and no meaningful measures that will tackle the actual problems. Instead, we've
been handed a box of band aids and told to be happy about it!
As winter takes hold, this government have increased carbon tax in circumstances where they have provided no affordable
alternative - once again leaving the most vulnerable having to make the choice between eating or heating. Even that choice
is becoming more difficult as prices of everyday staples like milk, bread and butter rocket in price with inflation at 9% and
Budget 2023 was another missed opportunity by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil with their green helpers as they serve
establishment Ireland, the system itself and those who benefit from the status quo - the rich, those in senior civil service roles,
developers, and faceless "investors". Citizens took a back seat as usual. More and more, we are viewed by FF and FG as
customers rather than citizens!
With record tax revenues and an unprecedented exchequer surplus available to them, they still avoided taking real
leadership decisions or acting in the best interests of the country. Much of what they've provided is useless and will leave us
all broke again very soon. I'd like to look at some key sectors, namely education, healthcare, social welfare, housing and
public transport to focus on what they did and what Socialists would do.
They have introduced free schoolbooks for primary school students and a €1,000 reduction in college registration fees.
Education should be free and open to everyone. School books and uniforms should be free, as should lunch for students at
all levels. There should be no "registration fees" or "voluntary contributions". The school meals programme has been
extended but will not cover all. People from disadvantaged backgrounds often drop out of full-time education because costs
are a barrier. Providing free schoolbooks to primary school students does nothing to help the parents of teens and young
adults in 2nd and 3rd level education and therefore does nothing to address the inequality and unfairness.
They have abolished all inpatient hospital charges. Healthcare should be free at the point of delivery, to all. As such, not just
inpatient charges should be abolished. All charges to the public should be abolished. Free GP care is to be widened to
include children up to 7 years of age, but this is again inadequate. GP's should not be in private practice where profit is their
motive, the state should provide GP care to all who need it and for free. The scope of the free contraception programme has
been widened to include all women from 16 to 30 years of age. This scheme should be scrapped and contraception made
freely available to any and all citizens who seek it. To not do so is to discriminate based on gender and age.
Social welfare incorporates those living with a disability or illness, those seeking work, those of pension age receiving the
state pension and many other supports for families who need it. The current base rates for the various schemes are deemed
inadequate as is, by a wide range of NGO's and campaigning groups who represent a diverse mix of citizens struggling to
survive. In Budget 2023, FF and FG have provided a €12 weekly increase to these base rates. They have also postponed
this meagre increase until January 2023, while at the same time TD's and government Ministers are to receive a significant
pay rise to their already bloated salaries from November 2022. This demonstrates the utter contempt that they have for some
of those who are suffering the most.
Since the 1980's it has been FF and FG policy to privatise housing for profit. From their persistent failure to build public
housing to their schemes to enrich landlords such as HAP, they have succeeded in bringing incredible misery to a shocking
and ever increasing number of people. We are living in times of unprecedented homelessness and a housing crisis that's
getting worse every second of every day. Those living in private rented accommodation lack any meaningful rights when it
comes to security of tenure or rent rates. In this budget they have continued their trend of pushing public housing into private
hands of greed. A €500 per annum tax credit for renters and the help to buy scheme just cement this flawed logic.
Housing should be a right, based on need not greed. Socialists would roll out a massive public housing building programme
and make housing available to all with rent related to income, thereby making mixed public housing where every worker
regardless of status could live together in real communities with diversity and togetherness as the ethos. We want public
housing for all.
The current situation whereby landlords can make people homeless on a whim is disgusting and wrong. In other EU
countries where renting is properly controlled, people are given real rights of tenure with long leases and true security. FF
and FG refuse to legislate for this because it removes the "opportunistic" element of their landlord class who see property as
a means to a profit before anything else.
Housing must become a right and Socialists want to make this a reality. People who see housing as a commodity are greed
driven pigs who prey on the vulnerable and create misery for their own personal gain. This cannot be allowed to become
normalised, and we will always fight for an end to rotten landlord thuggery and disregard for families, children and workers.
At a time where use of private cars needs to be discouraged, instead of any incentive to use public transport (where
available) they have wasted a significant opportunity and introduced a pathetic 20% reduction. Socialists want to see free,
frequent, and expanded public transport systems. Many other European countries have already introduced this with fantastic
results. Outside of our cities, public transport is often inadequate to put it mildly and, in many areas, there simply isn't any!
We need a massive investment in public transport throughout rural Ireland and we need to make public transport a realistic
and efficient alternative to the private car. Budget 2023 does absolutely nothing to address this.
I mentioned the one-off supports that are merely designed to get good press rather than to tackle the actual issues. Giving
people a double week or a "bonus" payment does nothing to change the problems. Energy costs won't change after these
little extras are long gone. Socialists would re-nationalise energy and do away with the so-called competition that is nothing
more than a cartel of the greedy and a cash-cow for the rich. When we had The ESB and An Bord Gais, both as semi-state
operators, we had electricity and gas prices among the cheapest in the EU. Today, with multiple suppliers competing for
profit rather than providing value, or properly competing at all, we have the highest prices in the EU.
Budget 2023 is another among the many stunts that FF and FG are famous for. Winter 2022 is set to be one many of us
won't easily forget, if we survive it that is! 2023 will begin with a cost-of-living crisis that wasn't properly dealt with and no
more "bonuses" for the people who will be hit hardest when bills start to arrive again. It has been flogged as a "giveaway
budget" but instead it's more like a "hood winking budget".
If you would like to know more about our politics and if you want to be part of a massive people powered movement, search
on social media platforms for The Cost of Living Coalition and join your local group as well as supporting the national
campaign. Together we can fight back just like we did when they tried to impose water charges.
Copyright 2022 RED Network | All Rights Reserved.