Health needs to be prioritised in next week’s budget

05 October 2017

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has expressed concern about health funding for next year in light of ongoing speculation about tax cuts.

Commenting this afternoon, Deputy Howlin said:

“Let’s be clear. Minister Harris has already said that overspending this year will be levied as a charge on the service next year. That is currently running at 166m with a full quarter year to go. The Taoiseach’s much talked about additional funding for 2018 announced last year is 120m. So they are at least 50m down.

“As things stand, and the Budget Oversight Committee has referred to this specifically, there is insufficient fiscal space available to pay for increases in current spending to pay for the new pay agreement next year.

“So it is unclear where the money for things like pensions and health spending are coming for.

“Given the fact that Minister Donohoe has categorically ruled out finding any additional fiscal space it must come from either indirect taxation, live register savings or interest rate savings.

During his time as Health Minister, Leo Varadkar received a supplementary estimate of 680m (without a charge), while Minister Donohoe brought in a supplementary estimate last year for over 500m.

“Our health service is already in crisis and unless serious resources are found that situation will exacerbate next year. The Taoiseach’s demands for additional health spending seem to have disappeared now that he no longer occupies that Department.

“He should remember how important health spending used to be to him, and take this opportunity to invest in the Sláintecare proposals, not in tax cuts amounting to the value of a cup of coffee each week.”

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