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Financial Resolutions 2020

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Budget Statement 2021

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Snippet Contents:

Faced with the really dire crisis produced by Covid-19, which is a health crisis, an economic crisis and a social crisis, we needed a budget that would support decisive action to defeat the threat of Covid-19 to public health and to support the workers, livelihoods and families most severely impacted as a result of the economic fallout of Covid-19. This budget has failed on both counts. The headline figures sound great but as soon as one looks into the detail it becomes clear that, despite significant increases in expenditure, the budget does not actually do what is necessary to deal with the threat of Covid-19.
The decision not to restore the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, and the wage subsidy scheme, which the Government has cut, is nothing short of a disgrace. It is a very dangerous mistake as infection rates rise and as tens or hundreds of thousands of people once again face potentially losing their employment and jobs if further restrictions are imposed. It seriously undermines the collective social solidarity that we need to deal with the threat of Covid-19. It was bad enough that people had to endure months of hardship, lost income and unemployment as a result of public health restrictions on a payment of €350, but to expect those whose particular jobs mean that their incomes are on the floor or their employment has ceased altogether, to continue through the crisis, along with others who may join them as a result of further health restrictions, in an even worse financial position is unacceptable and disgraceful. How are people supposed to pay rent, mortgage payments or bills if their income is slashed or their opportunities for employment massively reduced?
I have mentioned people in particular sectors, such as taxi drivers, musicians, those who work in the arts and events sector, ad nauseam. Such people who were getting the PUP, which has now been cut, have no prospect of returning to work at any time in the future or of their sectors fully recovering as long as the pandemic is with us. They will have to continue on while getting reduced payments.
While there is talk of an income subsidy, which such people may be able to receive while earning other income, there is a problem. The first is that people are on different levels of payment. Some are on €200, others are on €250 and others are on €300. There will be a cap of €120 on how much such people can earn in a week and it is not clear whether those who reach that cap will lose their entire payment. In any event, there is virtually no work out there and these people will actually have to survive on these reduced payments. On top of that, they will now have to pay additional vehicle registration tax if their vehicles are old, additional car tax and additional fuel costs as a result of the decision to increase the carbon tax. These are all regressive taxes which further increase the economic financial pressure on people who have already had their incomes and employment devastated. I put it to the Government that it is cruel and unfair to do that to the people who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.