Voters: end cuts to vital services before tax reductions
THE Irish public would rather see an end to austerity-driven cuts to services than lower income taxes in October's Budget.
With economic growth running ahead of previous expectations, hopes have been raised that the full €2bn adjustment might not be needed, raising the prospect of some relief to hard-pressed voters who have endured almost €30bn in spending cuts and tax rises since 2008.
Public weariness with six years of cutbacks to frontline services is revealed in the latest Irish Independent/Millward Brown nationwide opinion poll, published today.
The poll shows that 37pc of voters feel that fewer spending cuts is the preferred option on Budget day.
Those most in favour of relieving the scale of austerity include older rural voters in Ulster, Connacht and north Leinster and Sinn Fein and Independent voters.
More than one in four, 26pc, said they would prefer a reduction in income tax in Mr Noonan's Budget Day speech.
Those most in favour of cutting taxation rates include younger voters aged between 18 and 24, voters in Dublin and Labour supporters.
Less than one in five, 18pc, said continuing on the present course is the preferred option while 13pc said a combination of lower taxes and a lower level of spending cuts is the way to go.
A large majority, 67pc, said that the introduction of water charges will force their household to cut back on the amount of water they use, while 24pc said their homes will not cut back on their usage when billing begins later this year.
A strong majority of voters, 70pc, said they feel that the proceeds of the property tax should be retained by local councils in the area in which the money was collected, rather than redistributed to other areas.
Just under one in four voters, 24pc, feel surplus monies should be redistributed to other regions across the country.
Given the controversy around the level of tax levied on Dublin homeowners because of higher house prices, it is surprising that Dublin voters are among the strongest supporters of giving funds to poorer counties.
Two out of every five voters, 40pc, said they are more likely to vote for local election candidates who are promising to reduce the level of tax if elected. County Councils will shortly have the power to reduce or increase the level of property tax charged by 15pc.
In terms of security, two out of every five voters, 40pc, said they feel less safe from crime in their community, compared with two years ago.
This comes in the wake of a series of garda station closures across the country, and those saying they feel less safe include members of the farming community, elderly voters and women.
The poll also reveals that nearly half of voters, 47pc, believe Dublin should have a directly elected mayor, while just 19pc said they are opposed to the idea.
However, it is clear that many people are not engaged on the issue, as 34pc said they didn't know what to think.