Friday 23 February 2018

Budget leaks hitting confidence

WILL this Government never learn? Just when tentative signs of a stabilisation of fragile consumer confidence emerge the members of the Cabinet go and spoil it with leaks and spin about the Budget hits to come in December.

There is an element of testing the waters to see what consumers will put up with. So, we get well-placed leaks about child benefit cuts and another about imposing pay related social insurance (PRSI) on maternity benefits, to see what the reaction will be.

Always and ever the cuts and taxes are aimed at those with young families as they are seen as a soft touch, despite this cohort being under the most pressure financially.

Our cowardly masters never leak anything about plans to hit those with fat pensions, or those with big public sector salaries.

All of these Budget stories are stoking up fear among the productive classes.

So you get consumer confidence dropping like a stone.

The consumer sentiment index produced by KBC Bank and think tank the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) fell to 60.2 last month after hitting a near-five year high 70 in August.

And credit unions report that people have recoiled from taking out loans over fears they will not be able to meet the repayments.

No-one in Government seems to have twigged that nasty leaks about the Budget are counter-productive as they are sapping the confidence of the very people that the State needs to encourage to spend.

Just tell us now what to expect in the Budget and stop the secrecy nonsense.

Irish Independent

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