Sinn Féin’s alternative budget gives back to ‘squeezed middle’

Property tax would be abolished; 10,000 social houses would be built and the Vat paid hotels increased — under Sinn Féin’s alternative budget.

Higher earners would also be targeted, with an extra 7% income tax slapped on salaries of more than €100,000.

The party has proposed spending over €1 billion more on the key areas of education, housing and health next year.

Deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald said the proposals are about balancing the books in a way that is “radically different” from what Government has set out. She said the party would put an average of €244 back into the pockets of the “squeezed middle” through the abolition of the property tax; they would radically reduce the cost of childcare between the ages of six months and three years which could save families up to €420 per month per child; and would cut third-level student contributions by €500.

A controversial measure would be increasing the 9% Vat for the hotel sector to 13.5%. Sinn Fein would also introduce a €400 second-home charge; while the help-to-buy scheme would be scrapped.

It is widely expected that Government will up the State pension by €5 in next week’s budget.

However, Sinn Féin finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty, described their proposed €4.50 pension increase as a “fair amount”, adding that other groups are more in need of support. He said Sinn Féin are prioritising lone parents with a €5 increase: “We have looked at categories of people who are at risk of poverty, for example, if you are a lone parent you are over 25% more likely to be living in consistent poverty so that’s why we have identified lone parents above pensioners.”

He added that they have put together a “comprehensive package” for pensioners. The party said it would also recruit 800 new gardaí; create 950 new resource teacher and SNA positions; and tackle the trolley crisis with 500 more hospital beds and two million additional home help hours.

They also defended the €100m that they would put into funding Irish Water. However, Irish Water has said that significantly more than this is needed to upgrade the creaking national water system.

Mr Doherty said: “We are putting one-fifth of the net fiscal space into water infrastructure and I think that’s a good start.”

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