04 October 2016

Next week Budget 2017 will be revealed. The entire commentary to date is about the ‘fiscal space’ and what sectors will get a slice of the pie.

The Budget should be about guaranteeing that every citizen has a sufficient income to make possible a minimum acceptable standard of living. For the two million working adults in Ireland that can be best done through the payment of a living wage. For 2016 the living wage has been calculated at an hourly payment of 11.50 euro. This rate is evidence- based and is grounded in social consensus through the work of a group of high profile social partners.

The Budget next week should assert the Government’s commitment to a living wage.
In the first instance every Government Department and semi-state body should be obliged to become living wage employers.

Secondly, sectors of the private economy which are incentivised through Exchequer funds or grants or tax concessions should be obliged to become living wage employers as part of the conditions for the supports given. For example, the hospitality sector which has had its VAT reduced from 13 ½% to 9 % since 2011, saving the hoteliers, restauranteurs and caterers over 600 million euro per annum, should be obliged to operate a well-regulated industry including payment of the living wage to their employees.

It is time for the Budget to become a national vehicle to address the broad issues of equity in income, living standards and quality of life for all citizens and to cease to be a type of big Christmas cake to be cherry picked by the strongest and loudest.

Extract from speech by Joe Costello, Labour Party spokesman on Urban Regeneration, at a public meeting in Liberty Hall at 8pm on Tuesday 4th October on the theme, ‘A Living Wage for All.’ Other speakers were the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Brendan Carr, SIPTU official Ethel Buckley, and Senator Ged Nash.

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