Neasa Hourigan wants a mini budget to meet the cost of living

A TD party government has urged Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to hold a supplementary budget to meet the cost of living.

Green Party finance spokesman Neasa Hourigan said the minimum wage and child benefit should be increased, among other targeted measures.

The government does not intend to hold a mini budget, but will announce a series of measures Thursday aimed at protecting people against rising inflation.

When asked if her proposals amounted to a supplementary budget, MP Hourigan replied hard shoulder you can call it whatever you want.

“I guess I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of semantics.

“We could simply call it a set of measures to respond to current inflation.

“What we’re trying to do – and obviously we’re also doing that in the background privately with our coalition partners.

“But it’s important to say publicly as well, and spread these ideas, that we need to take immediate short-term action on the rate of inflation.

“Really, it’s quite urgent now at this point.

“I think you can sort of dwell on the words, but I think what we need is meaningful government action on the cost of living.”

“Particularly interested in family allowances”

She says the increases are being felt across all sectors.

“The increases in the cost of living that we are seeing in energy and food and rent disproportionately affect people with low to middle incomes.

“The rate of inflation we are seeing is higher than what we have seen in almost a decade.

“There have been good noises from the government about taking action, and what we wanted to do is set out some proposed actions that we could take.”

She says measures could include accelerating the transition to the living wage, which should be set at €11.

“One thing that is particularly close to my heart is to increase child benefits by €10 per month.

“I think it’s a particularly interesting thing to do, because child benefits are universal.

“It’s really aimed at women and children, and it really goes into people’s pockets and it makes a big difference.”

She says she is “always” looking for increases in social protection around disability – and also thinks a new tax credit could help people.

“A refundable tax credit, to allow people on low incomes to recover any unused tax credits”.

carbon tax

Telling her that the Green Party is looking to implement the carbon tax right now, she says it’s not the same thing.

“If you look at the numbers, the carbon tax is part of our national goals in terms of increasing – what the opposition is asking for – a blocking of the carbon tax increase.

“If you look at it in real monetary terms, it has nothing to do with the impact on households like something like minimum wage or child benefits.”

“It’s quite urgent now” – Green TD wants a mini budget to meet the cost of living

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

While an opposition TD compared the government’s attempts to tackle the rising cost of living to ‘tiny adhesive bandages over a gaping wound’.

People before profit – TD Solidarity Paul Murphy said Newstalk more needs to be done.

“The government has the power to introduce price controls – so, for example, to say in relation to electricity, to say in relation to oil and gas that we are going to impose a maximum price cap on these essential products .

“A second thing we would say is that the minimum wage needs to increase – the minimum wage has increased by 2.9% when inflation is above 5%.

“It’s a pay cut – but it also goes for workers who aren’t on minimum wage…one in five workers are poorly paid.

“And we are encouraging workers to take action themselves; if the government doesn’t, to impose wage demands above the rate of inflation to mean they don’t pay the price.”

And he said USC should be scrapped, given that it was introduced during an economic crisis.

“We opposed USC, we campaigned for the abolition of USC – and we would replace USC with what we call a high-income payroll tax.

“[This] would only apply to income above €80,000 per year, and any income below €80,000 would not pay it.

“It is a measure that was introduced linked to the 2007/2008 crisis, and we are still there”.

Main image: Neasa Hourigan, Green Party finance spokesperson, speaking to the media in January 2020. Photo by: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

About Mike Stevenson

Check Also

The time to recheck your risk profile matches your tolerance for market downside

Investors may not have fully appreciated the level of risk they were carrying in their …