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Budget widens rich-poor gap, Social Justice Ireland claims

Published 14/10/2015

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, left, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan delivered the 2015 Budget at Government Buildings
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, left, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan delivered the 2015 Budget at Government Buildings

The budget has widened the gap between Ireland's rich and the poor by more than 500 euro, campaigners have claimed.

Social Justice Ireland said the limited giveaways by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition offered more for the better off than for the poor and vulnerable.

In its analysis of the increases in welfare and cuts to the Universal Social Charges the campaign group said a single unemployed person on benefits will gain 95 euro a year compared to 902 euro for a single person earning 75,000 euro.

And it calculated that an unemployed couple will be better off by 1 57 euro a year compared to 1,408 euro for a working couple on a combined 125,000 euro a year.

Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland, said there was something in the budget for everyone and while it was regressive, it was not as regressive as previous years.

"Budget 2016 decided to give people in poverty its lowest priority and, instead, gave the major part of available resources to the better- off," he said.

"It's not possible to provide services that Irish people want for the level of total tax take.

"What is going on here is that the Government is pretending that it will deliver European levels of services on US levels of taxation.

"Irish people have shown in recent opinion polls that they'd prioritise improvements in health and housing over tax cuts but half of the available money went on tax.

"It massively favours the better off but the investments in housing and health are totally inadequate."

Mr Healy warned that the rich and poor gap - the difference between the disposable income of a single unemployed person and a single person earning 50,000 euro - h as widened by 1,003 euro in the last two years, including 506 euro from this year's measures alone.

The think-tank, which puts out a fully costed alternative budget each year, said it welcomed the minimum wage increase to 9.15 euro.

Mr Healy said the Government was emphasising the marginal tax rate dropping below 50% to hide the fact that it was supporting the better-off at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.

Social Justice Ireland also said the 6.5% corporation tax rate for companies signed into the "knowledge development box" for investing big in R and D and innovation and registering patents is "extremely generous".

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