IBEC went to war on the cost of welfare, with figures upwards of €20bn bandied about. In fact, the true cost of welfare is less than half the figures quoted. About 30% of welfare returns to the Exchequer, in VAT and excise duty. Secondly, the old age pension cannot be described as a welfare payment. The same might be said of rent allowance payments.
Property tax has been extended to those on welfare, an action which is likely unconstitutional. Far better for the Minister For Finance to direct his attention to our high level of tax breaks (three times the EU average) The property investment lobby has had its way, and house prices are rising again as another generation of young people is betrayed. Our economy might seem to be stabilising but underneath lies homelessness, alienation, depression and internal division.
The Minister For Finance must increase welfare payments. He must also introduce legislation to end the Section 23 tax break. Were he to take these actions, he might send out an important message: investment in people pays much higher dividends than investment in property.