Social Democrats Alternative Budget 2018 – Prioritising investment in public services for everyone

October 5, 2017

A new land hoarding tax and an enhanced Affordable Housing Scheme for first-time buyers are among the key measures in the Social Democrats Alternative Budget for 2018 published today.

The budget proposals are aimed at cutting the cost of living, prioritising the delivering of quality public services for everyone, and ending the crisis of supply and affordability in housing.

The introduction of a new land hoarding tax is part of a range of strict measures to free up land and vacant sites and get the State building house.

Other proposals include: a new Affordable Housing Scheme for first time buyers; caps on rents nationwide; paid parental leave; a new Early Years payment; and the abolition of the Help to Buy Scheme which the party says has added to price inflation and worked against the interests of first time buyers.

The Social Democrats also call on the government to challenge the ludicrous EU fiscal rules which prevent investment in infrastructure such as housing, electricity, broadband, transport, water and third level education.

Speaking at the launch of the party’s Budget proposals in Dublin today, party co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said:

“Our Budget proposals are fundamentally about fairness and long-term planning – spending wisely now in order to save later. If we don’t pull out all the stops to tackle the homelessness emergency, the house rental crisis, and the serious infrastructure shortcomings facing the country, we are just shoring up problems for the future.”

The party’s joint leader Róisín Shortall TD added:

“At a time of unprecedented crises in our public services, particularly in the areas of housing and health, the last thing the country needs is populist tax cuts which amount to a few euros a week in some people’s pockets.

“The biggest beef most people have is not over income tax, but the fact that they have to fork out for everyday public services that people in other countries take for granted. We strongly believe that the best way to help everyone in our society is to focus on improving services such as healthcare, public transport, and education, and to offer people help with some key costs such as housing, insurance, and energy bills.”

The Social Democrats’ Budget proposals commit to implementing the Sláintecare 10-year reform plan to build a modern and efficient public health service for everyone, based on medical need rather than ability to pay.

This requires a substantial investment in primary care staff and infrastructure throughout the country, as well as the removal of hospital inpatient charges, a reduction in prescription charges and the phased extension of free GP care.

Additional measures are targeted at cutting the cost of living, boosting supports for indigenous businesses including start-ups, and the setting up of a special Brexit Fund to help diversify UK-dependent Irish companies.

ENDS

5th October 2017

Notes to Editors:

1. The Social Democrats Alternative Budget 2018 is available here.

2. A Summary of the Alternative Budget provisions is below:

At a Glance: Planning for our Future: An Economy that Works for All
Social Democrats Alternative Budget 2018

1. Spending Measures – Total €2.3bn, includin:

Housing – €560 million (€509m net), including:

  • A Land Hoarding Tax, as part of a range of strict measures to free up land and vacant sites and get builders building houses.
  • More money for local authorities and housing bodies to Directly Build Houses.
  • An Affordable Housing Scheme for first time buyers – 20% of all new developments.
  • Caps on Rents nationwide, and new rights for tenants including indefinite tenancies.
  • Scrap the Help to Buy Scheme which has added to price inflation.
  • Abolish for house shares with rent above €2,500 a month.

Health-Sláintecare – €520 million, including:

  • Begin to implement Sláintecare, including capital spending on Primary Care centres.
  • Removal of Hospital Inpatient Charges.
  • Reduction in Prescription Charges.
  • Substantial investment in Primary Care Staff.
  • Phased extension of Free GP care.
  • End Home Care waiting lists.
  • Extra funding for Mental Health, Disability and Addiction services.

Cost of Living – €580 million, including:

  • Introduce 13 weeks paid Parental Leave for use by either parent.
  • An Early Years Payment for children aged from 9 months until entry to pre-school.
  • Free Primary Education with the removal of charges for books, transport and running of schools.
  • Reduce third level Student Fees and improve access to SUSI
  • Reverse 2012 changes to Pension Credit Bands which adversely affected women
  • Lower Car Insurance through measures to help reduce claims costs.
  • Reduce Public Transport Fares by increasing subsidy to public transport providers by €40m.
  • Improved Home and Business Energy Grants through a retro-fitting scheme.
  • Increase Pension and Welfare to match projected inflation

Child Poverty – €99 million, including:

  • Reintroduce the full Earnings Disregard for Lone Parents.
  • Reduce the Primary School Pupil-Teacher Ratio to 26:1 and provide 500 additional Special Needs Assistants.
  • Increase the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
  • Increase funding under the School Meals programme.
  • Increase funding for TUSLA to allow for a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention.
  • Support community-based Early Intervention Programmes by ensuring that there is a steady multi-annual funding stream.
  • Improve Funding for DEIS schools.

Business & Infrastructure – €488 million, including:

  • Boost Capital Spending for Housing, Tourism, Retrofitting and Rural Broadband and Renewal Projects – spend now to save later.
  • Challenge flawed EU rules to enable significantly more capital investment in housing, electricity, broadband, transport, water and third level infrastructure.
  • Increase Funding to Start-Ups through Enterprise Ireland.
  • Set up a special Brexit Fund to help diversify UK-dependent Irish companies.
  • Boost spending on Third Level Education.
  • Review VAT Categorisations and Rates to address the many discrepancies.

Anti-Corruption Agency and Other Measures – €105 million, including:

  • Set up an Independent Anti-Corruption Agency to effectively detect and prosecute corruption and white-collar crime offences.
  • Start the process of addressing Pay-Equalisation for Public Sector Workers hired on working terms inferior to their colleagues.
  • Increase Overseas Development Aid.
  • Grants for purchase of new Electric Cars.

2. Revenue Raising Measures – Total €1,002 million, including:

  • Tax increases on Sugar, Alcohol and Cigarettes including a 15c on a standard can of soft-drink; 10c on alcohol and 25c on pack of 20 cigarettes.
  • Pension tax relief – reduce threshold for maximum allowable pension fund.
  • A Betting Tax, both in-shop and on-line betting, of 2 per cent.
  • Section 110 reform, to end large-scale tax avoidance by vulture funds amongst others.
  • Corporation Tax Reform, to ensure effective tax rate is far closer to the headline rate.
  • Phasing out of 9% VAT rate for hospitality sector and instead target funds to initiatives that drive regional economic growth, tourism and capital spending.
  • Scrap the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) tax relief that reduces costs to employers of ‘high-end’ staff.
  • Levy on Single Use Plastics, as a new environmental levy.
  • Sun-bed Levy, in the interests of public health.
  • Unrecyclable Plastics Levy, to reduce the use of plastics that cannot be recycled.

Read the full Alternative Budget Document 2017