Ireland needs a new social contract

Today we launched our proposals for Labour’s Alternative Budget – my first Alternative Budget as Finance Spokesperson for the Labour Party.

You can read the full document here.

Covid-19 has revealed some unacceptable truths about the state of our country. Budget 2021 is an opportunity to deliver a new social contract and an economy that works for us all.

We want to protect workers, families and our communities.

It would be immoral to cut taxes on wealth while we are in the midst of a health crisis.

We would raise growth-friendly wealth taxes that won’t affect ordinary workers, end expensive and inefficient tax breaks and raise nearly €300m in environmental taxes to fund a just transition.

We are the party of work, and our priority is to do whatever it takes to save and create jobs. Central to our plan is ObairGhearr, a short time work and wage subsidy scheme to replace the current inadequate wage support scheme. Our plan is based on the German ‘Kurzarbeit’ scheme which has saved thousands of jobs and kept skills up. Our plan commits to reskilling and retraining employees at the same time.

In addition, we are proposing to purchase the equivalent of two private hospitals to expand public capacity quickly and tackle waiting lists.

One of our key proposals is to increase the fuel allowance to €40 a week, and extend the payment by 4 weeks recognising the impact of the Carbon Tax and Covid-19 on older people who will spend more time at home.

On housing, the crisis hasn’t gone away and we would commit to building an extra 10,000 social and affordable homes in 2021.

This is an anxious time for all of us. We see too many families are struggling to make ends meet, and too many parents worried about the economic future for their children.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the inequalities and insecurity felt by ordinary workers and their families, while the gap between the have littles and have lots has continued to widen.

Our Alternative Budget aims to bridge that gap. Ireland needs a new social contract, and some hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

In solidarity, and stay safe and well.

Ged Nash TD
Spokesperson on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform

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