Labour launch sustainable plan to slash inequality and invest in services

05 October 2023

The Labour Party has today launched it’s Alternative Budget offering a new vision for building an Ireland that works for all.

Labour is offering a clear vision of what people want: financial supports for a decent standard of living right now, and investment to create a better Ireland for us all into the future.

Labour’s Budget proposes tax spends of:

  • Net of just under €3 billion on once off cost of living package
  • Total budget package of €6.9billion
    • Additional net revenue raising measures of €2.8 billion
    • Additional current expenditure commitments of €1 billion

Labour’s immediate cost of living package delivers:

  • A €90 million emergency empty homes fund to tackle vacancy and dereliction.
  • A €9 unlimited public transport ticket.
  • An increase of social welfare payments by €15 from October, and €27.50 per week phased in over 2024.
  • Doubling the Christmas Child Benefit payment.
  • A once-off €250 November fuel allowance payment.

In housing, Labour would:

  • Allocate an additional ~€1.6 billion in capital to tackle labour shortages, build social and affordable homes on public land, invest in retrofitting for warmer homes, give renters a break and roll out our emergency housing solutions.
  • Labour estimates that 1 million additional homes must be secured in the next 10 years to meet existing demand.

For workers, Labour would:

  • End taxation on trade union membership subscriptions.
  • Provide paid leave for pregnancy loss.
  • Introduce the indexation of income tax and USC credits.
  • Provide €1.3 billion for public sector pay increases including community, care and voluntary sector workers in S39/S56/S10 bodies.
  • Increase the minimum wage by €2 to €13.30 and pay a living wage of €14.80 to all public servants.

On climate, Labour’s plans would:

  • Close the affordability gap on retrofitting homes with €157 million more targeted to provide free upgrades to low-income households.
  • Introduce a National Recycling and Repair company to tackle fast fashion.
  • Remove the VAT on e-bikes / bikes and safety equipment.
  • End car bloat with an SUV tax.
  • Slap a €10/MwH surcharge levy on Data Centre energy use which would bring in €40 million.
  • Extend the Windfall Levy to the end of 2023, bringing in €400 million.

To improve Ireland’s care system, Labour would:

  • Invest €239.2 million in dedicated measures to eradicate child poverty.
  • Care for the carers with a suite of measures including increasing the carers’ support grant to €2,000; increasing the carer’s allowance income disregards to €500 for single people and €1,000 for couples; extend the carer’s allowance to all recipients of the carer’s support grant.
  • Introduce a Niamh Bhreathnach moment for childcare to include a €200 monthly cap on childcare fees; a pilot scheme of universal, public childcare; and increased funding to pay professional salaries to workers.

For communities, Labour would:

  • Provide 50 additional refuge places.
  • Increase the Garda Training Allowance to a starting salary (allowance is €184 per week)
  • Invest €13 million in League of Ireland football, €6 million in grants and changing facilities for women and girls in sport and €25 million to fund 50 community playing pitches.

In education, Labour would:

  • Introduce a DEIS+ scheme and large funding increases to tackle disadvantage.
  • Fully fund free school transport places.
  • Invest majorly in special education and reducing class sizes.

For the health service, Labour would:

  • Invest €1.1 billion for new health measures including free GP care for all children, and a free full medical health assessment for every 18-year-old.
  • Fund the safe staffing framework and renovate vacant properties for healthcare worker housing.
  • Provide €270 million to implement the Disability Capacity Review and targeted funding to improve services for children with disabilities and access to diagnostic assessments.

Launching the proposals, Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash said:

“We are at a crucial point in our country, yet I don’t believe this Government is up to the task ahead. We’ve had an unprecedented number of industrial relations issues, workers struggling to keep the lights on and food on the table, and too many children with disabilities falling through the yawning gaps in our disability services.

“Labour has a vision for a better Ireland, an Ireland that works for all. An Ireland where when a child is sick, you can attend the doctor without fear of affordability. An Ireland where if you provide crucial care work to the State and communities, you will be paid fairly. An Ireland where everyone has a home. An Ireland where we slash inequality once and for all.

“Government spending plans are not keeping pace with inflation of population growth. The housing model is broken and demands urgent intervention. Labour has ringfenced €90 million to provide an emergency empty homes fund to bring empty properties into supply for people who so desperately need them.

“To address energy poverty that is rife nationwide, we have targeted supports to help the over one million households at risk of energy poverty, meaning half of all households would benefit.

“Labour is paving the way for a retrofitting revolution. Improving energy efficiency is a massive challenge for Ireland but a good place to start is in people’s homes. Making them warmer will create jobs, reduce costs and cut our carbon emissions.

“Our first priority is to improve the energy efficiency of households with the lowest income, who are also most at risk of energy poverty. We have provided for an extra capital investment in climate measures of €395 million, with €157 million dedicated to retrofitting, €113 million for solar installation and €125 million on public transport and cycling.

“Tackling crime is a huge concern to communities nationwide. Government has failed to tackle recruitment leaving communities feeling vulnerable. To help with the recruitment of additional Gardaí, we are proposing providing the €184 weekly training allowance to all starting salaries of Gardaí.

“Prison overcrowding must be urgently addressed by investing €5 million in the Probation Services to provide for greater use of Community Service Orders.

“Our plans are ambitious and necessary. Labour is proposing a range of radical revenue raising measures including increasing the Bank Levy to a net €500 million, increasing Stamp Duty on non-residential property to 10 and increasing the Betting Duty by 1%.

“Politics is about choices. Labour is listening to communities nationwide and our Budget is a reflection of their wants, their needs and their desires. The lack of leadership from this Government is exasperating the housing crisis, the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis. We need change, and we need change now.”

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