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Plans to 'reverse PUP cuts and double investment in housing': Sinn Féin launches alternative Budget

Sinn Féin said it would aim to spend €18.28 billion in total, €6.28 billion more than the government’s target.

SINN FÉIN WOULD reverse cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and double investment in housing, according to the party’s alternative Budget 2021.

The document was launched by finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mairéad Farrell, and party leader Mary Lou McDonald today.

b7d17b76-07fa-4d2f-ba5c-0c0d564ff809 The document was launched by Pearse Doherty, Mary Lou McDonald and Mairéad Farrell today. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

In the document, which can be read in full here, Sinn Féin pledges to:

  • Reverse cuts to the PUP
  • Reduce childcare costs by a third 
  • Reduce the cost of rent by up to €1,500 through a refundable tax credit (costing €257 million) and ban rent increases for three years
  • Create jobs through capital investment projects
  • Reduce VAT from 13.5% to 9% for affected sectors (costing €320 million)
  • Deliver affordable housing “on a scale never seen before”, double investment in housing and deliver 20,000 social and affordable homes (costing an additional €1.5 billion)
  • Deliver 1,100 hospital beds, 100 ICU beds, and recruit 2,500 additional nurses and doctors (costing almost €1 billion)
  • Increase various working-age social welfare payments by €5 per week (costing €222.5 million); increase the weekly pension by €3 per week or €5 for those living alone

The PUP has been reduced from €350 to €300 a week at the top rate. People who previously earned less than €300 per week now receive €250, while those earning less than €200 now receive €203.

Sinn Féin said it would aim to spend €18.28 billion in total in 2021, €6.28 billion more than the government’s target.

Screenshot 2020-10-09 at 14.38.27 Source: Sinn Féin

Screenshot 2020-10-09 at 14.39.17 Source: Sinn Féin

Screenshot 2020-10-09 at 14.39.34 Source: Sinn Féin

The coalition government has indicated it will increase expenditure by €12 billion, comprising €1.1 billion in pre-committed expenditure, €1 billion in capital expenditure, €9 billion in Covid-related expenditure and €900 million to meet day to day pressures in existing services.

Sinn Féin’s alternative budget would provide an additional €5.3 billion in current expenditure and €2.5 billion in capital expenditure.

This increase in current spending would be partially funded by “progressive tax measures” worth €1.5 billion, bringing net additional current expenditure to €3.8 billion.

This additional current expenditure is mostly comprised of “one-off measures” worth a combined €3.5 billion.

Sinn Féin would impose a “solidarity tax” of 3% on incomes above €140,000 in 2021, which would rise to 5% the following year. Tax credits would also be tapered off for incomes above €100,000, with no tax credits for people earning over €140,000.

Impact of Covid-19

Speaking at the launch today, Doherty said the unknown impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was a “big factor” considered by Sinn Féin when devising the document.

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“Even at this stage, we would normally have knowledge of the projected deficit for this year. It’s completely unknown because of the potential for the restrictions and what that will do to taxation and to expenditure.”

Doherty said, “regardless of whether we’re in Level 2 or Level 5″, Sinn Féin wants to freeze rents, reduce the cost of childcare, and invest in housing and health.

2.55406457 Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty outside Leinster House in Dublin. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

“There is a challenge in terms of projecting, there’s no doubt about that. In terms of the borrowing capacity, the borrowing capacity of the State is is not in question, absolutely not in question.

“Indeed, the the mantra is across the world, is that you deficit-spend at this point in time, you borrow, countries that are able to borrow should borrow and should spend to stimulate our economy in 2021,” Doherty stated.

Also speaking at the launch, McDonald said Ireland has to “be in a state of preparedness” amid the pandemic.

“That’s the essence of what we’re saying here, and bearing in mind the government itself and all have conceded that we’re in an era of deficit-spending, and that borrowing is a reality right across the continent, across the globe. And at a very very high level.

“The question is how do you invest it, where do your target it?,” McDonald said, adding: “We believe that this budget prepared by Pearse Doherty and Mairéad Farrell is the right approach.”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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