With the impending general election the long suffering people finally got some respite yesterday from the implacable austerity forced on them since late 2008. In my own submission a few weeks to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, I called again for many of the positive social expenditure measures that have been included in the Government’s final budget in office.
Yesterday’s Budget 2016 unveiled plans for NAMA to deliver 20,000 residential units by the end of 2020 and today, in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Broughan challenges the Government on why this is not the entire solution to Ireland’s housing emergency. Over 90,000 people are on social housing waiting lists nationwide and growing numbers are accessing emergency homeless services due to spiralling rents and mortgage arrears. As part of a €4.5 billion package, Ministers Noonan and Howlin, yesterday announced that we are returning to the old, failed system of developer-led residential construction.
I wish to echo some of Deputy Ó Caoláin’s comments on this financial resolution. The health capital budget and the entire capital programme up to 2020 was extremely disappointing vis-à-vis the amount we could spend up to the time of the decision by the Minister and his party to support to the disastrous blanket guarantee for the banks. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael together brought the relevant legislation before this House and left us with billions of debt to repay year in, year out. Therefore, the size of the capital budget is very disappointing.
Deputy Broughan submitted a number of Budget 2016 priority recommendations to Ministers Noonan and Howlin and hopes that they take this opportunity, their final budget in Government, to close the inequality gaps in Irish society (which are becoming more evident as growth and concentrations of wealth return to the dysfunctional pre-crash levels). Deputy Broughan highlighted housing, health (including disability), education, childcare and child protection, and social protection as areas to immediately be addressed.