Neri post budget reflections sinead pembroke 17 oct 18
Reflections on budget 2019
Dr Sinead Pembroke
A short-sighted budget
The recovery of the Irish economy from post-crisis stagnation presents the government with
policy options that did not exist in the immediate aftermath of the crisis.
The level of social provision in Ireland is low, as many services which are publicly provided
elsewhere are provided privately in Ireland. In this regard, TASC recommended increasing the
level of social provision so as to increase the living standards of lower-income groups. But this
has not been achieved in this budget.
We also need to confront the issue of Ireland being a low tax economy- tax take among the
lowest in the EU.
A low pay, high transfers economy
Finland Belgium Sweden Netherlands Austria Denmark Ireland UK
Labour 0.75 0.82 0.68 0.79 0.74 0.73 0.73 0.76
Capital 0.17 0.09 0.15 0.11 0.11 0.19 0.10 0.10
Received 0.08 0.09 0.17 0.10 0.15 0.07 0.17 0.14
Paid 0.35 0.30 0.34 0.39 0.35 0.40 0.29 0.32
Labour 0.40 0.37 0.38 0.52 0.50 0.50 0.24 0.33
Capital 0.12 0.03 0.03 0.03 0.04 0.01 0.02 0.05
Received 0.48 0.60 0.59 0.45 0.46 0.49 0.74 0.62
Paid 0.17 0.16 0.21 0.23 0.18 0.28 0.04 0.12
Table: Components of household equivalised disposable income per person by income
Source: author’s calculations based on EU-SILC microdata 2016 –Forthcoming FEPS-
TASC report on inequality.
Focussing on income tax reductions rather than
spending on services
Status and yearly earnings How much better off from budget 2019
Single person earning 25,000 26.62 euros
Single person earning 50,000 239 euros
Single person earning 75,000 289.23 euros (11 times more than single
person on 25,000)
The savings made for the bottom 40% is cancelled out when an unexpected
expense, such as illness is taken into account.
Welcome 2.4 billion for housing, and 1.25
billion allocated for delivery of 10,000 new
social houses (construction, acquisition and
However, there are three problems:
1. Still not enough for the sheer scale of the
2. Government’s continued reliance on
landlords for social housing (HAP).
3. It was a landlord’s budget.
Local authority builds 2008-2018 – 12,743 in
This figure is much lower as this figure includes rapid builds, turnkey developments, Part Vs, regenerations
and transitional construction. Last year 1,000 ‘builds’ which is less than 1% of social housing need.
Reliance on landlords to meet social housing
Increased HAP allocation of 121 million euros
Total expected spend on HAP is 423 million.
Up to the end of 2018 an estimated 49,700 private tenancies will have been subsidised, and over
70% of all housing solutions – Social Justice Ireland.
This is putting further pressure on the private rental sector.
A landlord’s budget
100% rate of mortgage interest tax relief on rented properties for landlords.
No extra funding for affordable rental model.
No relief for renters to reduce rents or increase security.
• As TASC’s report (Living with uncertainty: the social implications of precarious work, 2018)
revealed, precarious workers are unable to afford GP costs, yet are not covered by the public
• According to Connolly and Wren (2017), of those reporting an unmet healthcare need in Ireland,
59% attributed this to affordability, particularly in relation to GP care.
• Burke and Pentony (2011) identified three main groups who access the Irish health system: those
with medical cards, those with private health insurance and those who have neither.
• As long as we have a means-tested medical card system in place, it means that there will always
be sections of the population who just miss the threshold. The only way to avoid this is through
universal healthcare coverage.
Health in the budget
Need a greater shift to primarycare services.
Increasing threshold of GP only card by 25
euro not good enough – still continuing with
Amount proposed for Slaintecare integration
fund falls short. An indication that along with
the delays in implementation, it is not being
Childcare fees in centres and creches are not controlled, making costs very expensive for parents.
The average cost of full-time childcare (per week) has increased by 4.3%, from 167.03 in 2016 to
174.16 euros in 2017. (Pobal:2017 p. 7)
Should move towards a direct capitation grants system similar to the primary education sector.
The government should aim to increase investment up to UNICEF’s international target of 1 per
cent of GDP in a phased basis.
Childcare in the budget
Welcome the additional 2 weeks paid parental leave
Welcome increased investment in the Affordable
Childcare Scheme. The changes in income thresholds
enable more children access to the scheme. In
addition €32 million of extra funding is to be made
available in 2019 to respond to the increasing demand
for the ‘September Measures’, (the interim childcare
subsidies that will be replaced by the Affordable
However, there are major issues around capacity, low
pay and retention of staff in early years services that
will be need to be addressed.
The social welfare system has played an important role in supporting workers who are
unemployed, have caring responsibilities, who are underemployed or who choose to work part-
But warn against further subsidizing precarious work.
Policy needs to veer away from social welfare payments, which act as subsidies for employers to
hire people on low-hour contracts and work with no guaranteed hours.
Welfare in budget
Welcome extension of JSB to self-employed.
Welcome 5 euro increased to JS.
But it failed to re-instate social welfare for people under 25 back to the normal rate.
This is needed because, According to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) who
conducted research on youth unemployment in Ireland, almost four out of ten young people
struggled to make ends meet. National Youth Council of Ireland, (2014). NYCI Briefing Paper 2:
We hear about the economy growing, and
unemployment going down, but questions remain
around the types of jobs being created.
The flipside of weak earning power through the
labour market is high levels of transfers received,
and also low levels of transfers (taxes) paid. Again,
this is what we see in Ireland. The bottom 40%
receive almost three quarters of their income in
transfers from the state and pay just 4% of their
income in transfers.
Welcome the 25c increase of the minimum wage.
But it is still 2.10 euros below the living wage (11.90
The living wage is a benchmark for living standards
for fulltime workers.
We should be aiming to replace the minimum
wage with the living wage rate.
We need budgets that addresses the long-
term future needs of the population
We need to increase tax take with just measures of taxation
Investment in universal access to public services like health, childcare and housing does not just
mean more income in pockets in the long-term, but it also ensures everyone has access to these
Work must pay – advantages in terms of increase in taxation and less reliance on transfers,
addresses inequality and economic insecurity, and added benefits for productivity levels and
There needs to be a change in political will to do this.