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Financial Resolutions 2019\Budget Statement 2019

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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

We are in the middle of the greatest housing crisis in generations. Ten thousand people are officially homeless, despite all the efforts of the Government to keep the figures artificially low. More than 100,000 people are on housing waiting lists, with 500,000 young people stuck in their parents' houses because they are unable to afford rent. Hundreds of thousands of other people are faced with paying rent that is completely out of control and hundreds of thousands of others are unable to buy their first home. One would not know any of that in listening to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe.
The Minister told us with pride at 1 p.m. today that "In the past 12 months, 5,000 households have exited homelessness." What he neglected to tell us is that more than 5,000 households in the same period entered homelessness, with the result that the number of households that are homeless rose rather than declined. In the midst of this greatest housing crisis, what is proposed by Fine Gael and agreed by Fianna Fáil, despite all its empty calls for this to be a housing budget, is a landlords' budget. It is a landlords' budget presented by a landlords' Minister on behalf of a landlords' Government. It has more tax reliefs for landlords making unprecedented profits; they are the highest in the European Union. More housing assistance payment money is being shovelled in the direction of landlords. The Government is simply repackaging the same old Rebuilding Ireland promises and figures one more time.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, in last week's debate reassured us that he had no ideological position on housing but a week later we have a budget that absolutely confirms that the ideological position of the Government, of which the Minister of State present, Deputy Halligan, is a part. That Government of Fine Gael, Independents and so on has a right-wing ideological position. It is a neoliberal ideological position that chimes with the material interests of those who support Fine Gael. They are the landlords and the developers. We know from the budget that this ideological position does not exist in a vacuum just on the matter of housing but relates to the Government's entire view of how the economy should be run. Those neoliberal policies carried out in the years of crisis and supposed recovery have resulted in a society with entrenched and deep inequality.
There has been a very substantial recovery for those at the top, including the top 300 people who have doubled their personal wealth over the past number of years. Corporations have doubled their profits over the past number of years. However, there is a consequence, as workers' wages are now barely at the point they were before the crisis with the wealth funnelling upwards at an unprecedented rate and with 10% of the population controlling 54% of the net wealth, leaving just 5% for the bottom 50%. There has been a shift in society from wages to profits, with workers' wages falling as a percentage of gross domestic product from 53% in 2008 to 40% now. This is a budget to entrench that neoliberal model and the inequality flowing from it.
This is a budget for fiddling while the whole world burns. It has effectively nothing to say on the key matter of climate change. Yesterday's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, report has the entire world talking about the fact we have 12 years to turn the problem around to avoid hitting a global average increase of 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That does not seem to have performed any kind of wake-up service for the Government whatever.
This is a budget for the continuation of discrimination and mistreatment of young people, including students, young workers and the young unemployed. It is a budget where taxation measures give less than a fiver to an average worker but turns a very encouraging blind eye to the multinationals to enable them to continue their tax avoidance on a massive scale while the Government pretends to be doing something about it. The figures demonstrate that this is not the case. There is an alternative but it is based on the implementation of radically different policies from those of the Government. It is based on the implementation of socialist policies and using the resources that exist in society to tackle the housing emergency now, invest in public services and use public investment and democratic public ownership to develop sustainably, in an economic and environmental sense, our economy.