'Wrong priorities, wrong choices', says Tully of Budget
CHOICES Too many middle and low income families will be worse off next year
"The Government have missed the opportunity to give households certainty and support, to give them assurance that they would be able to manage. They have the wrong priorities and made the wrong choices," insists a local Sinn Féin deputy
Speaking after this afternoon's Budget announcement Cavan-Monaghan TD Pauline Tully focussed on energy costs in her critique of Minister Paschal Donohoe's plans.
“Today the Government had the opportunity to give people certainty as they face into a winter of rising costs: Certainty about energy costs, certainty on rents.
“They have not done so today.
“And for too many workers and families on middle and low incomes, they will see little change in this Budget, and will be worse off next year.
“What workers and families needed was certainty to get through this winter.
“Households have been hit with massive hikes in their energy bills.
“By refusing to reduce electricity prices and cap them at pre-crisis the Government have left households exposed to further price hikes.
“And the decision, once again, to leave households using home heating oil out in the cold – not only by refusing to reduce the tax applied to it but deciding to increase its cost with a further carbon tax hike – is simply unacceptable."
The Cavan based TD also slammed the Government's announcement of electricity credits to every home, claiming it's "the wrong approach".
“This subsidy to households will do nothing to stop further price hikes in the weeks and months ahead and will support the profit margin of energy companies.
“Sinn Féin would have reduced electricity prices and capped them at pre-crisis levels throughout the winter months, ensuring that all households received fair support and certainty in the time ahead, based on the energy they use."
She further noted how the cost-of-living crisis is hitting working people, and insisted government measures didn't go far enough to support them.
“At times of inflation, a pay rise that fails to rise with the rate of inflation is a real-terms pay cut. That is precisely what this Government has handed to our lowest paid workers on the minimum wage.
“A minimum wage increase of more than €1 would have been needed just to protect these workers from inflation and the impact of price rises.
“The income tax package announced today left many middle and low-income earners out in the cold.
The income tax package will benefit someone on €135,000 by €830 while three quarter of earners will only benefit by €190.
“What message does it send a staff nurse, a teacher or private sector worker on €35,000? That someone earning €135,000 will receive over four times more than they will through this tax package?
“What do they have to show for the long hours they put in to keep a roof over their head, pay the bills, put food on the table and put some money away for the future?"
She said Sinn Féin's proposed tax package would have delivered €700 in the pockets of someone on €35,000 through cuts to the USC coupled with cost of living supports.
“The €12 increase in social welfare announced today is far outstripped by the rate of inflation and price rises. That means that these households will be have less to get by than they did this year and last year."
Finally Deputy Tully addressed the the impact of the housing crisis on young people. She said there was no indication in this budget the crisis would be tackled.
“Instead, they will receive money and tax relief that will be swallowed up by inflation and runaway rents before they can make a difference in people’s pockets. The Government have announced a tax credit for renters worth €500.
“But in Co. Cavan, the average rent has increased by more than €1,600 in the past year alone.
“A Sinn Féin Government would have put one month’s rent back in renters’ pockets through a refundable tax credit and banned further rent increases.
“Real action, real relief for renters."
She concluded that a Sinn Féin Government would have different priorities and make better choices.
“Today is Budget Day – the Government will have their day throwing numbers at the public.
“But the true test of this Budget is whether households will be better or worse off this winter and next year.
“For too many, I believe this Budget has failed that test."