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Budget Statement 2018

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Snippet Contents:

-----and the second preschool year was introduced. This is a tiny sum and it will not address the low wages of people working in the child care sector.
In our alternative budget, we allocated a sum of money to reduce the cost on parents but we also included a significant sum to increase the pay of workers in the sector to a living wage. These people are dedicated to their work but are paid less than they would be in a job where they did not need qualifications. We are discussing people who, in many cases, have degrees in child care and other significant qualifications.
There was considerable spin about this budget in advance. Much of that was questionable, given how previous Ministers were sacked for releasing even a small amount of information. The spin concerning the amount of money that would be spent on, for example, child care led to an expectation that something real was going to happen, yet nothing real has happened for those children. Nothing real has happened for children in homelessness or other precarious housing situations. It could have been done, however, as there were ways in which extra money could have been raised and directed to where it was most needed.
There was a significant expectation that there would be a focus on housing. Not on announcements or spin but on delivery. We have 700-plus sites around the country in public ownership on which local authorities could show leadership by building a social mix of housing to be available to people at an affordable level, be that through leasing or sale, but that opportunity has not been taken. I predict that this time next year, many of those sites will not even have been commenced because there are no implementation measures. There is a vague throwing of money at the private sector in the hope that it will respond but that has failed to date and will not succeed now.
The budget is particularly disappointing because the opportunities that existed have not been seized. This budget will be marked as one in which the economy had begun to rise and there were ways of raising more money, some of which I have outlined, but where the areas crying out for spending - health and housing in particular, but also education - were failed. I regret that this budget is not doing what we expected it to do.