Deputy Broughan is bringing his High Pay and Wealth Commission Private Member’s Bill before the Dáil this Friday the 27th of March 2015.   Deputy Broughan hopes the Bill will be passed with a view to being incorporated as a tool to begin to address the economic and income inequalities faced by citizens in Ireland today. Deputy Broughan’s Bill will provide for the establishment of a High Pay and Wealth Commission within the existing structure of the Central Statistics Office; meaning it could be set-up at no cost to the Exchequer.

The High Pay and Wealth Commission as proposed by Deputy Broughan will collect, compile and publicly disseminate anonymised information on income and wealth held by individuals and companies throughout the State. The collection of this data will primarily be used to inform economic and fiscal policy so that decisions on where State expenditure should be cut or tax increases should be applied will be made in a fairer and more informed manner. One of the ways in which this objective will be achieved is the inclusion in the Bill of a requirement that the Commission will carry out an independent equality audit of all budgets prepared by the Minister for Finance. The Equality Budgeting Campaign has been calling for such an audit since 2012 as it was becoming more and more clear that the Government’s austerity budgets were hitting the most vulnerable in Irish society most harshly.

Deputy Broughan’s High Pay and Wealth Commission will also look at Executive Pay and report on how high levels of executive pay could be regulated by measures such as caps or pay ratios. Deputy Broughan is proposing that the Commission will publish regular reports as part of an ‘Executive Pay Project’ and that it would prepare its recommendations on the introduction of measures to halt the excessively high levels of pay awarded to executives, particularly in the private sector and to promote much fairer income levels for all workers and citizens. This is especially important when we see workers on zero hour contracts and a minimum wage that is less than a living wage.

The main points of the Bill are as follows:

  • “High Pay” means gross income from employment or other sources in excess of €80,000;
  • The Commission will be set up as an executive office of the Central Statistics Office and will expand on the work already being done through the “Household Finance and Consumption Survey”;
  • The Commission will be made up of 9 people; 6 of whom will be appointed following a publicly advertised competition;
  • Each budget will have to undergo an equality audit; and
  • Ultimately, the information collated and distributed by the Commission will inform fairer economic and fiscal policies.

Deputy Broughan says “The literature available on this topic is vast and all point in the same direction. Income inequality exists in Ireland and those who say it doesn’t are not living in the real world. Forbe’s Rich List isn’t even a rich list anymore – it’s a Billionaires List and five individuals on this elusive list are based in Ireland. TASC, NERI, ESRI, all continue to produce reports that confirm what we already know – those with wealth continue to grow their wealth; widening the gap between the haves and the majority of Irish citizens”.