Budget 2024 has proven to be unambitious and, like many budgets before it, will fail to provide for working people. 2024 will continue to see us struggle.
The government has missed an opportunity to seriously invest in domestic industry and production. Our economy is currently heavily reliant on the corporation tax paid by a small number of multinationals, such as Apple and Google. The development of a native economy is the only way for a country to ensure that it can stand on its own two feet well into the future. Otherwise, we remain subservient to the multinationals. As such, a clear investment strategy that develops indigenous industry and the infrastructure to support it is vital. There is a golden opportunity to invest in, for example, nuclear power which not only would advance energy security, reduce domestic energy bills and carbon emissions, it would lower the cost of production for industry in Ireland.
The fact that this budget creates another rainy-day fund, rather than using those billions to fund, for example, the mass construction of public housing that is badly-needed now, shows the lack of feasibility in the current approach to provide for both now and the future.
The increase of the minimum wage to €12.70 falls significantly short of reaching €14.80, which is the current estimated living wage rate. It doesn’t even meet the living wage for last year. Taking inflation into account, it should be obvious that this will not make a serious difference to the lives of those workers.
Social welfare recipients, including pensioners and the disabled, have received a measly €12 increase. Even with the electricity credits, we sincerely hope that none of them are left freezing given the costs involved and the difficult choice between heating or eating that many will no doubt face.
The tax cuts in this budget yet again favour the wealthy. Landlords will receive a tax break of up to €1,000, while renters get only an increase of €250 to bring their tax credit up to €750. Given how many more renters there are than landlords, and given how much worse off they are than the landlords who profit from them, it is obvious that this is not a fair or good balance as the government want you to believe.
The Irish Medical Organisation have said that the government have failed to invest seriously in the health service, while the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland have described the budget as a “backwards step for the provision of mental health treatment in this country,” noting that “meaningful connections between psychiatry and primary services have not been established.”
These problems and more show a lack of willingness on the part of the government to address the problems facing working people. Instead, they are happy to continue our subservience to the multinationals, allowing the Irish capitalist class to skim just enough off the top to keep themselves happy.