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Social Justice Ireland calls for €1bn investment in infrastructure

By Susan Gately - 19 July, 2016

Investing €400m on rural broadband would have better impact on productivity than tax cuts.

Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland

Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland

Launching Budget Choices 2017 yesterday,  Social Justice Ireland called for €1bn in next year’s Budget to be spent on housing, broadband and other infrastructures. They say their fully costed budget proposals can deliver a “vibrant economy, a just society and a sustainable future”.

The main plank of the think-tank’s proposals is to invest in infrastructure rather than giving tax cuts.

Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland, said investing €400m of the fiscal space to deliver broadband to rural areas would have a “much better impact on productivity and competitiveness than tax cuts”.

“It will create jobs, support rural entrepreneurs and local business and rejuvenate rural towns and communities.  It will also demonstrate Government’s commitment to rural Ireland and to ensuring a more balanced spread of job creation.”

Fr Sean Healy. Pic: RTE

Fr Sean Healy. Pic: RTE

Dr Séan Healy said investing the money in social housing and helping rural Ireland would be more useful than tax cuts.”Government should spend €1bn fiscal space on infrastructure to improve productivity and competitiveness. This would be a far better use of resources than giving tax cuts as incentives to attract ‘Brexit refugees’ from the City of London to Dublin,” he said.

Dr Healy said investment was “crucial” to addressing Ireland’s infrastructure deficits and to delivering a vibrant and sustainable economy and a just society.  “Productivity and competitiveness should improve the living standards of everyone in society.  Key to improving our performance in these areas is investment in infrastructure and services,” he said.

Social Justice Ireland is proposing the Government allocate €600m of the fiscal space to social housing in Budget 2017.  “We also set out proposals for Government to access substantial additional resources for social housing within the fiscal rules,” said Dr Healy.

The main proposals contained in Social Justice’s Budget Choices 2017 are:

Investment Packages

  • Additional €600m to support the Social Housing Strategy, with new ‘Off Balance Sheet’ proposal to get access to low cost finance to build additional social housing.
  • A rural and regional investment of €710m for Broadband, Rural Transport and a Rural Enterprise Scheme.
  • €327m investment in Health to support Primary Care Teams, with additional measures to support older people, Disability and to tackle Obesity.
  • €350m investment in Education including Adult Literacy, after school care and early childhood education.
  • A Social Welfare package including an increase of €6.50 per week in Social Welfare Payments and a Cost of Disability Allowance.

Tax reform

  • Make tax credits refundable in Budget 2017 in order to make work pay for the ‘working poor’.
  • Increase the PAYE credit by €6.50 per week to benefit all workers.
  • Standard rate all discretionary tax expenditures and pension contributions.
  • Introduce a minimum effective corporate tax rate of 6%.

Social Justice Ireland is an independent think tank and justice advocacy organisation.

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