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Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe]   The income tax changes I am making today are responsible - they are targetted. They provide targeted relief for those on lower and middle incomes. They do not erode our tax base and they are affordable.


  Another area where the Government is providing sustainable improvements is in public service pay. We are now entering the second year of the public service stability agreement, through which the Government is committed to providing €1.2 billion to increase pay for public servants over the period 2018 to 2021. This benefits different income groups by between 6.2% and 10% over that three year period.

  These increases are in line with general wage developments in our economy and provide a negotiated pathway for the dismantling of the financial emergency legislation. This was a core commitment of the programme for Government.

  We have also delivered on the establishment of the Public Service Pay Commission which recently published its second report on recruitment and retention in the health service. While the commission found that there were no general recruitment and retention difficulties for nursing and midwifery, it recommended a targeted €20 million increase in certain allowances.

  The Government accepts the findings and recommendations of the pay commission. Resources have been allocated to implement this recommendation from March 2019, subject to acceptance by the relevant unions.

  On the issue of new entrant pay, the measures recently agreed with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, make good on this Government’s commitment to provide certainty. The agreement equalises the length of time both new and existing members of staff will take to reach the end point of their salary scales.

  This will cost approximately €200 million out to 2025 but will benefit over 61,500 new entrants, including 16,000 teachers, 5,000 special needs assistants and almost 10,000 nurses. As with all elements of Government expenditure, ensuring value for money from this investment is hugely important.


  To support the value for money initiative across the Government, my Department is engaged in a multi-annual spending review process to promote the development of better policy options. Today I am releasing additional spending review papers, which brings to 50 the number of analyses produced for the spending review over the past two years.

  Furthermore, my Department will publish an additional 15 papers today which will focus on areas such as social impact assessment and prevention and early intervention. This work informs many of the decisions I have announced today.

  The Government believes the public has a right to know how and why decisions are made and the impacts that these decisions will have. Through the Open Data initiative, public service performance reporting and the national economic dialogue, we have made much progress on delivering increased transparency.

  Just a number of weeks ago my Department published, for the first time, an interactive, user-friendly capital projects tracker as part of the national development plan. It provides details of costs, timelines, locations and many other useful indicators across 270 projects and programmes. It is a template for a more open approach to government.

  I will be working with my ministerial colleagues to extend this framework to more areas of expenditure over time. This type of transparency also extends to how we prepare our budgets.

  A good example of this can be seen through the introduction of equality and gender budgeting, which is bringing greater awareness to the impacts of budgetary decisions and greater transparency to the areas which need attention.

  Having successfully piloted the initiative across six programme areas in 2018, next year I am expanding the initiative to broaden its scope to other dimensions of equality, including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability. This expansion is being supported by an equality budgeting expert advisory group, which will bring expert knowledge on how best to progress this important work.


  Budget 2019 further secures the shared progress we have made. It provides record levels of funding to continue to improve our public services. It helps those on low and middle incomes. It increases living standards for the less well off in our society. It balances our books. It provides significant investment to build resilience in our economy and support its long-term growth.

  It aims to make us Brexit ready by providing sufficient flexibility to deal with the risk of a more disorderly outcome. This will be done by balancing our books while allowing us to invest €1.5 billion in our country’s future, including measures such as: the human capital initiative; the future growth loan scheme; over €110 million for Brexit measures across a number of Departments; and additional Exchequer and semi-State capital across a range of sectors.

  This is responsible, sensible and is consistent with maintaining stability in the public finances.

  Most importantly this is a caring budget. It recognises the real social needs our citizens face and provides the sustainable funding and effective policies to address them. It is about securing our future and renewing the centre. It addresses the risks we face both domestically and internationally.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley What about the climate risk?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The budget I have announced today is a progressive budget with an emphasis on strengthening our national finances. It is a responsible budget for a modern and caring Ireland that aims to be at the centre of a changing world.

  I commend the budget to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Minister exceeded the allocated time so I will try to be equally flexible with the Opposition speakers should the need arise. I call Deputy Michael McGrath, who is sharing time with Deputy Cowen.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Having somewhere to call home and having access to a public health system when one needs it are among the most basic needs of a citizen. For any society that regards itself as modern, decent and compassionate, meeting these needs is the foundation on which the rest of society is built. This budget will ultimately be judged on whether it takes policy on housing and health in a new direction and helps to deliver better outcomes.

In truth, the Government has failed to get to grips with the housing crisis. The Government has executive authority, it controls the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and it is responsible for addressing the housing crisis. It must accept that its performance on housing has not been good enough.

Budget day helps to set the direction of policy and at its simplest level provides the money. It is the day-to-day management of government business that delivers on the ground and this is where the Government is failing in respect of housing. We have not been short of big launches and public relations, PR, events but we have been short of homes being built. Policies are being announced and launched and then re-announced and relaunched, but are not implemented in practice. There has been no follow through. Outside the bubble of Leinster House the daily grind of getting things done is what matters to the people we all represent. This Government needs to get back to the politics of getting things done when it comes to housing.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath With regard to the housing crisis, the overall message to the Government is to cut the obsession with PR and spin, and focus on delivery.

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