We all knew December’s budget was savage and harsh. We knew working families and the unemployed were hit hard. However the severity of the tax increases has taken many by surprise. Married couples on the average Industrial wage are down over €80 a week. This is aside from cuts in child benefit and increased service charges. Only yesterday VHI had announced an increase in their premiums putting a further burden on hard-pressed families.
The reality is that this budget has made it expensive to work. Those on average incomes have no medical card, no income supports, and no mortgage relief and are finding it difficult to cope. Many bought properties at the top end of the market and are saddled with huge mortgages. Those working in manufacturing plants such as GSK in Dungarvan and Genzyme in the City who depend on overtime will see most of it go on tax and levies.
The reality is that this Government had alternatives. We in Sinn Féin produced a fully costed pre-budget plan that would have taxed those on high incomes more and protected working families struggling to pay bills. We proposed a third rate of tax of 48% on incomes in excess of three times the average industrial wage (€100,000), an income linked wealth tax of 1% on all assets in excess of €1million and increases in Capital Gains and Capital Acquisitions Tax. These and other proposals were ignored in favour of tax hikes on those already struggling to survive and the unemployed. The quicker we have an election to kick out this incompetent Government the better.