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Budget Statement 2018 (Continued)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

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  9 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy] Indeed, Barnardos stated tonight that these increases are unacceptable. We should have done a lot more for the children of the nation who we are supposed to look after, given that one in four one-parent families lives in consistent poverty. The organisation, One Family, stated tonight that it is disappointed with the proposals and that much more must be done to lift one-parent families out of Government-created poverty.

There were two other areas in the social welfare budget that the Government should have addressed as a matter of urgency. It has been asked to address these matters urgently by Members on all sides of the House. I refer to the State pension for women who took time out to look after and rear families and now find themselves with zero or reduced pensions. It is time to ensure that the changes introduced by Deputy Burton when she was leader of the Labour Party are reversed and that those women get proper State pension payments. I refer also to the age at which pension entitlements accrue. It has gone to 66 and will go to 68. There is even talk of it going to 70. That should be reversed and the age should revert to 65. If individuals want to work beyond 65, it should be optional. Certainly, however, the pension age should revert to 65.

Turning to education, while the reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio from 27:1 to 26:1 is welcome, we continue to have the second largest class sizes in Europe. Only the UK has larger class sizes. The average pupil-teacher ratio in Europe is 20:1, which shows how far we have to go. School communities and parents will be deeply disappointed that the capitation grant has not been increased. There is huge pressure on parents to make payments to schools, to run cake sales and draws and to otherwise support schools. Capitation payments must be increased.

The mark of this budget is the fact that AIB and permanent tsb, two banks which we, the people, bailed out, will now be tax free for another 21 years. That is absolutely unacceptable. As someone else said, this is a budget of bits and bobs. There is nothing substantial in it for ordinary families or, indeed, public services. It is a budget for the wealthy at the expense of public services, those who are homeless, those seeking housing and those who are patients in our hospitals.

  Sitting suspended at 9.05 p.m. and resumed at 9.35 p.m.

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