Saturday 16 December 2017

This alleged recovery is passing many people by

The government parties are rightly paying the price for targeting those who are least able to pay.

People queue for Social Welfare
People queue for Social Welfare

Stephen Donnelly

MORE and more people are asking why, if the economy is turning, they still have less and less money in their pockets. They hear things are improving, but their daily reality is that it's getting harder and harder to pay the bills. I spoke recently with a grocer who has been in business in Wicklow for 40 years. He told me that in all that time he has never seen pensioners with so little money to buy basic foodstuffs.

This is what an unequal recovery feels like. For some, the future is indeed looking brighter. For others, like these pensioners, things are either not improving or, six years into the crisis, are still getting worse. This needs to change. Ireland's economic recovery can and should be felt by as many as possible. To achieve this, we need to make some changes. Most importantly, we need to switch from regressive to progressive budgeting.

Between 2008 and 2012, the number of people at work in Ireland fell by more than 300,000. Many of those who kept their jobs suffered severe pay cuts. At the same time, payments to Government increased via the USC and property taxes. Important private sector costs, like health insurance, rent and variable-rate mortgages, have been going up. Third-level fees and school-related costs are on the rise. And of course, water charges are on the way.

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