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A budget of missed opportunities

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018 5:09pm

What kind of a budget is Budget 2019?

I heard political analysts describe how it was a clever budget that gave something to everyone.

I can’t agree with that. We have an ongoing, worsening housing crisis that will not get solved until something radical happens.

Speaking on ‘Prime Time’ on RTÉ on Tuesday night, Dr Mary Murphy from the Department of Sociology in Maynooth University said that Budget 2019, as regards housing, was “quite worrying in terms of general direction”. “For whatever reason, partly ideological, Government seems very very orientated towards market-based solutions for housing rather than building public houses on public land. Government seems very fixated against the idea of using public land to develop large-scale public housing, the kind of big bang that people might have expected in a budget like this, if it really was to get to grips with the housing problem.

“That really worries me. There is no signal in this budget that there is any change of tack and really, we seem to be going further up a cul-de-sac that’s not going to deliver long-term solutions,” she said.

And that would also be my worry. Can the State deliver even a decent fraction of the housing needed? It hasn’t so far. What will change? The Government are allocating more money, but in a sense, money isn’t the problem. The local authorities can’t spend the housing money quickly enough.

The problem continues to get worse. We’ve had a housing crisis for years now, and still it gets worse. We haven’t even hit rock bottom yet. Radical change is needed - it hasn’t come.

The Daily Expenses Allowance, formerly known as the Direct Provision Allowance, is to rise from €21.60 to €38.80 for adults and to €29.80 for children. It’s hard to know how positive this is. It’s a big rise, but from a pitiful base. I hope it'll make a big difference to those who receive it, but if you get the bus a few times, your €21.60 is almost gone. I don’t know how they survive.

Joe Curtin is a senior research fellow in UCC with responsibility for climate change policy at Institute of International and European Affairs. He said: “If Ireland, a small relatively well governed and wealthy country with a booming economy, can't deliver a miserable €10 increase in the Carbon Tax, one day after the most urgent IPCC report yet, then we truly are doomed. Truly shocking and abject failure of political leadership.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report on Sunday shows how the impacts of even 1.5C of warming are far greater than previously thought. The report said that even half a degree of extra warming will affect hundreds of millions of people and intensify heat extremes.

But in an incredibly short-sighted move, the Government chose to make no change to Carbon Tax. This truly was a budget of missed opportunities.

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