Cost of living budget brought forward to September but people 'need help now', say Cork Opposition TDs

The Summer Economic Statement, announced yesterday by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath, sets out the parameters for the Budget - which will now be held on September 27.
Cost of living budget brought forward to September but people 'need help now', say Cork Opposition TDs

Budget 2023, brought forward by two weeks, will be a “cost of living Budget” with an increased package of €6.7 billion to help offset the cost-of-living crisis. But Opposition TDs in Cork have criticised the Government’s decision to wait until September as people “need help now”. Pictured is Socialist Party TD Mick Barry and Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Budget 2023, brought forward by two weeks, will be a “cost of living Budget” with an increased package of €6.7 billion to help offset the cost-of-living crisis. 

But Opposition TDs in Cork have criticised the Government’s decision to wait until September as people “need help now”.

The Summer Economic Statement, announced yesterday by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath, sets out the parameters for the Budget - which will now be held on September 27.

But Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Thomas Gould said people struggling need help to come sooner than that.

“I know the Government has announced that the Budget will be brought forward by two weeks but for most people, they need help now. We need a budget now.

“The Dáil is on recess from next week and a lot of people were hoping that the Government would have brought in some measures to help support people over the summer.

“For families with children going back to school, telling them there’s going to be a budget on September 27 is no good,” Mr Gould told The Echo.

The overall Budget package will be made up of additional public spending worth €5.65bn, and taxation measures worth €1.05bn.

Of the additional spend, €3bn is pre-allocated and €3.7bn is left to be divided between Government departments.

Fine Gael TD for Cork North Central Colm Burke particularly welcomed the amount earmarked for taxation measures - double what was expected.

“I think what has been set out in terms of the parameters of Budget 2023 is good. We’re talking over €1bn of tax cuts which I think is really welcome and I would hope it would be aimed at the middle and lower income groups,” he said.

Government is providing for core spending of €85.8bn next year, a 6.5 per cent increase.

Planned changes to tax bands and credits will aim to ensure workers are not “dragged” into higher levels of taxation due to wage inflation.

The exact change to tax bands has not yet been detailed.

Budget 2023 will also include €4.5bn in non-core expenditure for temporary measures, which will include humanitarian support for Ukrainian refugees the Brexit Adjustment Reserve and some Covid-19 measures.

The Summer Economic Statement notes the vulnerability of the economy to high public debt in Ireland, particularly when coupled with financing an ageing population, climate change mitigation, the digital transition and implementing Sláintecare.

Concerns were also raised about the severe economic disruption to the Irish export market if Russia were to completely withdraw its gas supplies from Europe, in retaliation for the sanctions imposed by the EU over the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Despite this, the Irish economy appears to have recovered well from the Covid-19 pandemic.

There was an Exchequer deficit of about €5bn in the first half of last year, compared with an Exchequer surplus of €4.2bn for the first half of this year.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central Pádraig O'Sullivan said “it is welcome to see that the State is in the financial position to help alleviate some of the pressures experienced by people” despite the challenging backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the inflation levels.

“I would hope in September’s Budget we specifically look at interventions for working families in energy/fuel prices and childcare,” he added.

However, Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said an “emergency budget” should have been published yesterday not a Summer Economic Statement.

“People shouldn't be forced to wait three months.

“The Government are still looking at half-measures rather than the really bold measures that people need.

“Real change is clearly only going to come if they are put under massive pressure by a water charges-style movement on the streets,” he said.

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