Laois Offaly TD Brian Stanley
Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says that the Governments budget does not do enough to address the double whammy of Covid 19 and Brexit.
“While the are some positive measures such as, the equalisation of tax credits for the self-employed, funding for deep retrofitting and extra money for health, they simply did not address many key areas sufficiently," he said.
Budget 2021 was the largest in the history of the state, delivering €17.75bn as the Government seeks to keep the economy and society afloat throughout the pandemic.
Dep Stanley said not enough is done for health.
"There needed to be a massive increase in the capacity of our health services and hospitals, not just to deal with the pandemic but also to improve services. Sinn Féin put forward the case for a minimum of 100 extra ICU beds and €38 million for extra home care hours. Only 60 ICU beds are promised. We set out the need for improvements in mental health with an additional €49 million, but just €38million was allocated.
"Sustaining businesses and workers during the crisis and expanding employment as we emerge from it is crucial. But many workers are facing further income cuts and hardship, reduced rates of Pandemic Unemployment Payment PUP and wage subsidy scheme. Sinn Féin wants restoration of the top rate of PUP (€350) for those who were earning in excess of this. We also wanted special measures to tackle youth unemployment, including an additional €74 million to expand the apprenticeship training scheme.
"For businesses, the rates waiver should have been extended until next June, instead it ends on the 31st of December and significant grants for SMEs. Radical measures are needed to support the hospitality sector, such as the voucher scheme we proposed of €200 per adult and €100 for children. These have worked in other countries.
"The Government failed to grasp the scale of the housing crisis by allocating just €110 million for affordable housing to rent and buy. SF put forward a proposal for €1.1 billion to provide 4000 affordable homes to purchase and 4000 cost rental homes. We also want the number of new council homes increased to 12,000 at an additional cost of €467 million. They also failed to reinstate the rent freeze.
Overall this budget was a missed opportunity by Government to sustain workers, families and employment in the present crisis. They also failed to address the major inadequacies in health, housing, childcare and disabilities," Deputy Stanley said.