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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Leah Farrell
Alternative budgets

Rent freeze, free transport, more homes: Here's what other parties say they would do if in power

A refundable tax credit is contained in Sinn Féin’s alternative budget.

IN THE LATEST opinion poll this week Sinn Féin pushed out a ten-point lead on Fine Gael, polling 32% against Fine Gael’s 22%. Fianna Fáil faired even worse at 20%.

If an election were held today, it would be Sinn Féin’s for the taking.

But what would the party do if they were in government and were heading into Budget Day next week?

In their alternative budget proposals, launched in Dublin on Thursday, the party focused heavily on housing – one the major issues that is damaging both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

If in government, Sinn Féin would pledge to deliver 20,000 social and affordable homes in 2022 and ban rent increases.

The party also states that it would deliver 100% redress to homeowners impacted by building defects.

A Vacant Property Levy would be on the cards under the party – something the government says it plans to do also, after it gets the property tax returns back next month, but it could be 2023 or later before such a tax might kick in.

Sinn Féin says it would establish a working group made up of Revenue and officials from the Departments of Housing and Finance to make recommendations within three months of the passing of the Budget on the design and operation of such a levy.

A refundable tax credit, putting one month’s rent back into renters pockets and a ban on rent increases for three years would also rolled out, at a cost of €273 million.

The party also wants to end tax breaks for developers and vulture funds.

Other things that they want to establish is free books scheme over four years and phase out fees for school transport.

They want to keep the pension age at 65 years old and also increase social welfare rates by €10 and the State pension by €5 at a cost of €610 million

Free fares on public transport for under 18s would be introduced over two Budgets, while increased grants for electric vehicles for those with lower incomes would be rolled out.

In terms of tax and business, something that government parties often hit out against Sinn Féin for, the party says that it would introduce a new rate of Employers’ PRSI for incomes above €100,000, starting at 13.25% in 2022.

They plan to phase out the local property tax, starting with a 20% reduction, with the revenue to be replaced by a wealth tax on net assets above one million euro, at 1%.

Incomes over 140,000 would be hit with a 3% “solidarity tax”, while tax credits would be removed on incomes above 100,000 euro.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “Our plan is underpinned by a sustainable fiscal strategy that would reduce the deficit and put our public finances on a sure footing.

“Our plan would, based on recent forecasts by the ESRI and the Fiscal Advisory Council, reduce the deficit by 4.5 billion euro in 2022, with a deficit of 2.2% of GDP.”

What about the other parties? 

Labour’s alternative Budget calls for a Carbon Tax Credit for 2022 of €200, and would be available up to an income limit of €50,000 and those living in homes with a BER rating of less than B2.

Weekly fuel allowance payment by €5 per week, and it would be expanded out to an additional 130,000 households. 

The party advocated for the phased introduction of Pay Related Jobseekers Benefit providing a €50 per week increase for incomes over €30,000.

In terms of health, the party would nationalise two private hospitals.

Labour is also in favour of a rent freeze of three years, as well as a vacant housing tax.

The alternative budget suggests a change in planning law to stop the repurposing of student accommodation into short term lets and invest in publicly owned cost-rental student housing.

The Social Democrats said their budget would give an extra five weeks of paid parents leave, and would commit to a new model of childcare provision, with a far greater role for the State.

The party would also increase core welfare and pension rates by €10 per week, as well as look at protecting the most vulnerable during the winter period of energy price increases. The Social Democrats, if in power, would also increase the minimum wage by 60 cents.

People Before Profit’s alternative budget commits to delivering a minimum of 25,000 new public and  affordable homes, while also establishing a single-tier health service, which would be free at the point of use.

The party would abolish the USC for all earning under €90,000 per year, as well as scrapping the property tax. In the proposals they commit to increasing the minimum wage to €15 per hour, and to return pension age to 65. 

The party would also introduce free public transport and introduce a wealth tax on assets over €1m and higher income tax on earnings over €100,000. They would also increase employers PRSI.

Aontú says in its alternative budget that a €10 per week increase in the State Pension should begin 2022 and the pension age should be retained at 66. It also calls for the establishment of an auto-enrolment pension scheme to begin in 2022.

A provisional allocation of €90 million is included in the submission to reduce Leap Card Fares and ticket prices for inter-county travel. 

The alternative budget also includes an extension and increase of the Banking Levy to ensure a per annum return of €250 million. The party also wants a digital sales and services tax to ensure those benefiting from the pandemic contribute through a 3% levy on all digital services and sales that are offered in the country.

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