Budget week is always an interesting week. On Tuesday morning, I took part in an Oireachtas TV interview on the work of the Budgetary Oversight Committee and then went in to the Dáil chambers to listen to Minister Paschal Donohoe announce another Budget to benefit the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil elites. Of course, there are some welcome measures including the €5 per week increase in Social Protection payments, €25 increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the increase in the earnings disregard for working lone parents to €150 and the full restoration of the Christmas Bonus. Resourcing for Housing, Health, Disability and Education however was desperately disappointing and included no measures to address the urgent needs these sectors have.
At the outset, I wish to acknowledge the sterling work and reports of the Committee on Budgetary Oversight and the Parliamentary Budget Office during the year.
This budget was framed against a background of several challenges, such as the impact of a possible hard Brexit, trying keep an open border with the North, President Trump’s “America First” policy, our over-reliance on corporation tax from a small number of multinationals, the ongoing desperate housing crisis, health waiting lists and, of course, climate change and all the issues highlighted yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. The budget that has been presented is, at best, a type of holding exercise. It is a sadly familiar budget and is principally for the elites of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and their supporters in the property industry.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has welcomed some of the measures announced in Budget 2019 today. Increases in Social Protection payments, the full restoration of the Christmas Bonus and further access to free GP care are all very welcome, as is the increased Health Budget of over €17bn. There have also been some increases in expenditure for Housing but the government is still tinkering at the edges of the current crisis.