BUDGET 2016: Rich-poor gap ‘widened further’

Social Justice Ireland has savaged the budget, claiming it has added to a widening poverty gap and that the measures are based on “false assumptions”.
BUDGET 2016: Rich-poor gap ‘widened further’

The group said Tuesday’s measures marked the fifth regressive budget in a row, and favoured the better-off rather than the most poor and vulnerable in society.

It welcomed the minimum wage increase, but said more needed to be done given the fall in living standards.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin had refuted claims that the poverty gap had increased under the current government, but Social Justice Ireland said Budget 2016 widened the rich-poor gap by €506 a year.

According to its analysis: “This measures the gap between the disposable income of a single unemployed person and a single person on €50,000 per annum. If compared with people on higher salaries the rich-poor gap has widened even more.

“The rich-poor gap has widened by €1,003 in two years as a result of this Government’s budget decisions.”

Fr Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland said its past budget analysis has been verified by the ESRI and said: “I am not creating these numbers. I wish to God they were different.”

The organisation also claimed the Government is operating under three false assumptions on taxation: that Ireland’s total tax -take is high; that poor people pay no tax; and that €70,000 a year is middle-income.

Fr Healy said: “The bottom line is you can’t have a European level of services with American levels of taxation.”

He said the less well-off had got “the crumbs from the table” in the budget and added in relation to housing issues and possible property repossessions: “The fact is that there is a complete lack of a long-term approach.”

Social Justice Ireland said it regretted the failure to raise all social welfare rates by €6.50 a week to regain half of what had been lost in the rising cost of living, failure to introduce a sugar-sweetened drinks tax, and what it called the generosity towards corporations versus the harsh approach to the less well-off.

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