Monday 20 November 2017

Cut tax so we can all share recovery

MillwardBrown Poll exclusive: 79pc say they are not feeling the recovery... Fine Gael down 5pc

A majority of people are demanding government action on income tax cuts and wage increases, with renewed pressure on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to put more money back into the pockets of our citizens
A majority of people are demanding government action on income tax cuts and wage increases, with renewed pressure on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to put more money back into the pockets of our citizens
Willie Kealy

Willie Kealy

A huge majority of Irish people are still not feeling the benefits of the recovery, despite figures showing that we have returned to pre-crash levels of growth, according to the latest Sunday Independent/MillwardBrown national opinion poll.

And a majority of people are demanding government action on income tax cuts and wage increases, with renewed pressure on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to put more money back into the pockets of our citizens.

The latest poll shows that a large majority - 79pc - say they have not felt any improvement in their circumstances from the recovery, with more than half of those (40pc) saying they actually feel worse off. Thirty-nine per cent feel that their circumstances are unchanged since last year, with just 16pc saying they can feel the recovery in their pockets.

About the same number who say they can feel the improvement are optimistic of further progress in the coming year (19pc) but there is corresponding pessimism among the majority; 29pc feel they will be worse off and 41pc say things will remain the same.

There has undoubtedly been strong growth in the economy, with gross domestic product up by 5.2pc last year and by 6.5pc in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year, and unemployment is down.

But the Government seems to have received no credit for this, though it is unclear whether people feel external factors are the primary reason for economic improvements or if they are angry at the Government about other issues.

There is also the possibility there is a two-tier element to the recovery, with the benefits of the recovery confined to a minority.

Whatever the cause, satisfaction with the Government has dropped to 25pc from 29pc in June. Only 27pc feel this Government will be returned at the next election but that is up from 16pc in our last poll.

Forty-eight per cent say the Government will not get back into power (down from 55 pc). Support for Fine Gael is down to 24pc from 29pc, while Labour still languishes at 7pc - it was 6pc in June.

Satisfaction with Enda Kenny is at 25pc - a sharp decrease from 32pc in June - and satisfaction with Joan Burton is at 20pc, down from 26pc.

Micheal Martin (32pc, down from 36pc) is now the most popular leader. Fianna Fail at 23pc (unchanged) is now just one percentage point behind Fine Gael. Sinn Fein at 21pc is unchanged and satisfaction with Gerry Adams, at 30pc, is the same as in our last poll.

Last week, the Central Bank advised Michael Noonan that because growth for the current year is already predicted to be between 4pc and 5pc, there was no need to further encourage growth with tax cuts and increased public spending. And the Competitiveness Council warned that Ireland was still only a "mid-table performer" in terms of competitiveness - a coded call for a freeze on wages. But the people want the minister to reduce income tax in the October Budget (26pc made this their top priority, up from 22pc last April when the question was first posed); 23pc say a cut in the USC is the top priority, down from 27pc. Forty-four per cent of those polled want to see an increase in wages in the private sector (that was 43pc in April and 38pc last September). Thirty-eight percent are against this.

There is also support from 38pc for a wage increase in the public sector (up from 37pc in April and 31pc last September) with 44pc against.

Meanwhile, one area that has obviously fuelled the public anger towards the Government - the water charges - continues to divide opinion, with 36pc convinced the charges will be abolished after the next election, compared to 37pc who believe they are here to stay.

But Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour and Renua are all committed to maintaining the water charges - though Fianna Fail would abolish Irish Water.

Only Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party, People Before Profit and the newly formed Social Democrats are pledging abolition.

Sunday Independent

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