A Budget For Change
Different Priorities, Better Choices
Sinn Féin’s budget is a budget for change. Our proposals are about giving people help and certainty to get through the winter months while building for the future and delivering the housing and healthcare that is needed.
Our fully costed proposals are about making different political choices to this government. We are prioritising those on middle and low incomes and a younger generation locked out of opportunity.
We cannot continue to see a rehashing of old tired policies that have failed for 20 years. We need fresh ideas and a change of direction. That is what Sinn Féin’s budget is about.
EMERGENCY COST OF LIVING PACKAGE 2022
Households need immediate action and relief. Sinn Féin’s measures match the scale of the impact on people’s lives.
A Sinn Féin Government would use this opportunity to assure householders firstly their electricity bills will be reduced and capped back to 2021 levels and secondly that they will not rise this winter. Below is our Emergency Cost of Living Package:
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Cut household electricity bills to summer 2021 levels and keep them there
This would be achieved by reducing the price that electricity suppliers can charge householders and keeping them at pre-crisis levels until the end of February. This price reduction would provide certainty to households this winter. Under our proposal the state would compensate electricity suppliers for the difference between summer 2021 rates and the wholesale price that the suppliers themselves must pay to electricity generators. We would task the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) with the management of this compensation scheme.
We would allocate €1.6 billion for this measure, €900 million in 2022 and €700 million for January and February 2023. Our cost projections are based on average annual electricity bills and CSO data on electricity usage in the winter months. It covers the price increases that have been signalled already and includes a further buffer of €230 million in case wholesale prices rise further during the winter.
In addition in keeping with the European Commission proposals, we propose to reduce and cap the prices of non-gas electricity generators, primarily wind generators, which would put an end to their excess profits and further limit the amount of funding required from the Exchequer to compensate suppliers. We also support the introduction of a windfall tax on energy companies to stop them exploiting the crisis at the expense of workers and families.
Cash payments to assist with other energy bills
Cost of Living Payments would be paid to adults through Revenue and the Department of Social Protection to provide significant and targeted support, with payments ranging from €500 to €100, based on individual income (whether this comes from work or social welfare). The lower your individual income, the bigger your cash payment. For example, an individual with income of less than €21,300 would receive a payment of €500, an individual with income of €40,000 would receive a payment of €300. Individuals with income above €70,000 would not receive a payment. This financial support would help households with the higher cost of living this winter. This measure would cost an estimated €1.5 billion.
Double Child Benefit payment
The more people in your house, the more energy you must use. An extra child benefit payment worth €140 per child would be paid on the 4th of October. This measure will cost €170.4 million.
More help with petrol, diesel, home heating oil, electricity, and gas
The taxes charged by Government at the pumps should be reduced to the greatest extent permissible. Excise on petrol and diesel should be reduced by an extra 13 cents and 9 cents per litre respectively until the end of 2022. Households who depend on home heating oil have been given zero support to date by Government despite skyrocketing costs – the excise duty on it should be removed, which would reduce the cost of a 1,000 litre fill by €118. Reduced rates of VAT applying to electricity and gas should be extended to the end of the year. The combined cost of these measures is €323.9 million.
No Carbon Tax increase
The Government plan to increase the carbon tax on motor fuels on 12th October. This hike must not proceed. This will cost €19.3 million.
Increase Fuel Allowance and extend it to more people
Increase the weekly payment by €5 and open the payment to families who are in work on low incomes. This will cost €40.3 million.
Help people who are in arrears on their energy bills already
We would establish a €15 million Discretionary Debt Utility Fund to be run by community welfare officers.
Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients
This is a double payment of the normal weekly amount, which will differ depending on what scheme you are on and how many dependents you have. This would cost €333 million.
Introduce tax relief for renters
We propose putting a month’s rent back into renters’ pockets and the measure should be introduced now on a pro-rata basis, costing €75.7 million for the remainder of the year.
Slash childcare fees
Cut childcare fees by two thirds. A one third cut immediately followed by a further cut next year. Full- time childcare fees currently average at €810 per month per child and are even higher in parts of Dublin. Our plan could result in a cut of over €6,500 to a parent’s annual childcare fees, depending on the age and location of their child, at a cost of €34.4 million this year.
Reduce student fees by €1,000
Sinn Féin has long committed to abolish student fees. We would begin by making an immediate reduction of €1,000 to the student contribution charge. Many students, especially those from lower income households, pay their fees incrementally and would therefore gain the benefit of this pressure being lifted from them straightaway. Others, who have already paid, may experience a delay but we would expect the colleges to work with their students to ensure refunds are issued as promptly as possible. This measure would cost €85.4 million.
Give patients relief from healthcare charges
Out-of-pocket charges for healthcare have been putting pressure on patients for many years. This is felt all the more acutely now in the context of so many rising costs for households. As part of our emergency package, we propose abolishing prescription charges, reducing the drugs payment scheme threshold to €70 and halving hospital inpatient charges at a cost of €23 million.
Extend the 20% transport fare reduction to commercial operators
We would extend the 20% fare reduction currently in place for all PSO public transport providers until 31st December 2022 to commercial bus operators (CBOs). This is to ensure that more customers can avail of a 20% fare reduction to help ease the pressure of the cost of living crisis at a cost of €6 million in 2022.
Save jobs and livelihoods by supporting businesses with rising energy bills
Shops, cafes, pubs, and other small and family-run businesses, are facing energy price hikes that threaten them with closure – risking livelihoods and jobs as a result. We propose a scheme for businesses, similar to one in Luxembourg, whereby a portion of a qualifying business’ energy bills increase will be covered by the state with appropriate limits. This €500 million scheme would be targeted and tailored according to an agreement between employers’ representatives and trade unions to ensure that the criteria for access and levels of support extended maximise the protection of jobs. Support would be available until the end of February, at which point it would be reviewed. The cost in 2022 would be €300 million.
Introduce a €2 billion Energy Support Loan Scheme managed by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and lent through the commercial banking sector, similar to the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee. Loans would be zero interest with no repayments for the first 12 months and with affordable rates of interest thereafter.
Businesses would also be supported through our proposals for petrol, diesel and home heating oil outlined earlier in this section.
Increase emergency supports for farmers
We propose increasing funding by €30 million this year to provide emergency supports for the agricultural sector to maximise European Crisis Reserve Co-Financing.
FUNDING OUR EMERGENCY COST OF LIVING PACKAGE FOR 2022
At the time of Budget 2022, a deficit of more than €8 billion was expected for this year. The Fiscal Council now expect a surplus of €4.5 billion, an improvement in the fiscal position of more than €12 billion. Furthermore, the Fiscal Council have noted that €2.5 billion of non-core expenditure earmarked for 2022 remains unallocated. This puts the State in a strong position to support households and businesses.
Sinn Féin’s plan to support workers and families this winter would cost €4.1 billion in 2022 and result in a modest surplus this year, allowing for a dynamic and flexible response to the cost of living crisis in the time ahead.
This crisis demands fiscal intervention but also supply-side reform. Both go hand in hand. Our energy market is broken – the price electricity generators are paid is not based on the cost of production but the cost of gas, hiking prices for suppliers and bills for consumers, and securing windfall profits for energy companies.
Sinn Féin has for months argued that this broken market be reformed, breaking the link between gas and electricity prices, and imposing windfall taxes on energy companies that are enjoying obscene profits. These reforms would reduce bills for households and costs for the Exchequer. For months, the Government has opposed these reforms, domestically and at a European level, inflating electricity prices and household bills. These reforms must now be implemented.
A Sinn Féin Government would support households through the winter months by reducing electricity prices, rolling out cost of living payments to assist with other energy costs and protecting the most vulnerable. In 2023, we would deliver an income tax package put money back in people’s pockets, reduce the cost of fuel, support renters and shield lower and middle-income households from the impact of inflation. Sinn Féin would give workers and families a break.
The energy crisis has taken hold when households already faced persistent failures in housing, health and childcare. A Sinn Féin Government would cut childcare fees and reduce rents. We would tackle the housing crisis by delivering genuinely affordable homes, and we would put dignity, respect and fairness at the heart of our healthcare service. We would implement a fair plan to tackle climate change, providing affordable alternatives for households rather than imposing punitive taxes. Our plan would give workers and families a break.
PUTTING MONEY BACK IN YOUR POCKET
In Budget 2023 there must be one clear priority. We must give workers and families a break in the face of an unprecedented cost of living crisis. No one should be heading into this winter concerned about whether they will be able to heat their homes or feed their children. Families should not be falling into debt to pay energy bills.
The government has been too slow to act. Their response has been inadequate and piecemeal. The crisis which we are now facing is compounded by the government’s failure to tackle housing costs, rents and childcare costs.
Budget 2023 needs to give those on low and middle incomes relief from the rising cost of living, in particular soaring energy prices. Addressing the high costs of rents and childcare is also essential if we are to lift the burden from people who are facing into the winter already struggling to make ends meet. To deal with the rising cost of energy and to meet our climate targets we must facilitate those on low and middle incomes to retrofit their homes. The government’s new Retrofit scheme fails because it favours those who are better off. It’s time for a new retrofit scheme that prioritises those on low and middle incomes.
We need a Budget that will bring real relief right now and also give households the breathing space they will badly need next year. We need a Sinn Féin Budget.
Our priorities include:
The upcoming budget will take place in the context of high inflation, a cost-of-living crisis and economic uncertainty.
The global economic recovery following the pandemic has been hindered by high inflation, an energy crisis driven by the war in Ukraine, and persisting supply-chain disruptions.
Domestically, there has been inadequate action to address high inflation and its impact has worsened living conditions and increased hardship. To date, the Government’s response to support households and businesses from the increases in energy costs has been among the weakest in the European Union, while Government opposition to reform of the wholesale energy market has facilitated high energy prices for consumers and windfall profits for energy companies.
High inflation has taken hold at a time when workers and families were already contending with persistent Government policy failures in areas such as housing, health and childcare provision.
Sinn Féin’s budgetary strategy is built on the primary objective of supporting households through the cost- of-living crisis, while supporting employment, delivering affordable housing, and fixing our broken health system.
This strategy is underpinned by a credible fiscal plan, delivering sustainable increases in core expenditure to meet the needs of our society, together with temporary measures in response to high inflation, humanitarian support for refugees arriving from Ukraine, Brexit and COVID-19.
This plan will also ensure sustainable and resilient public finances, allowing for a dynamic and flexible response to the cost-of-living crisis in the time ahead.
At the time of Budget 2022, a deficit of more than €8 billion was expected for this year. The Fiscal Council now project a surplus of €4.5 billion, an improvement in the fiscal position of more than €12 billion.
Sinn Féin is proposing an Emergency Cost of Living Package to support workers, families, and businesses for the remainder of 2022. Government measures to date have been wholly inadequate and deaf to the struggles that citizens are facing. This package would amount to €4.1 billion and is set out in Part 1 of this document.
For 2023, Sinn Féin are proposing a net budget package of €9.4 billion.
This includes pre-committed expenditure of €3 billion related to existing levels of services, demographics, existing public sector pay agreements and non-pay inflation and the National Development Plan. It will also provide for an expenditure package of €6.1 billion in core expenditure for new measures and €0.9 billion in non-core temporary measures in response to the cost-of living crisis.
This increase in core expenditure includes €3.7 billion in current spending, partially funded by additional tax revenue of €2.2 billion to ensure increases in day-to-day spending are put on a sustainable footing, and €2.9 billion in capital investment to deliver affordable housing at scale, increase hospital capacity, retrofit homes and accelerate our transition to a low-carbon economy.
Provision is also made, consistent with the Summer Economic Statement, for a non-core expenditure provision of €4.5 billion. This will providing funding for COVID-19 expenditure, Brexit, Mother and Baby Homes Redress and the response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, including pressures it has placed on student accommodation.
A tax package will also be provided of €1.3 billion, with €0.2 billion in temporary tax measures.
Sinn Féin’s plan will support households through the cost-of-living crisis, respond to the needs of our citizens and put the public finances on a sustainable path.
|Net Budget Package||9.4|
|Expenditure New Measures|
|Taxation New Measures|
|General Government Balance||-0.2|
|General Government Balance|
Budget 2023 – DIFFERENT PRIORITIES, BETTER CHOICES
Cost of Living
Sinn Féin knows that no Government can protect everybody fully from every price increase, but we believe that more can and should be done by Government. And more would be done by a Sinn Féin Government.
Households are under serious pressure with the cost of living crisis, and ordinary workers and families need a break from these spiralling costs.
The cost of household energy has rocketed, with more than 50 different price increase announcements from Irish energy suppliers over the past 18 months. Average annual electricity bills have risen by some €1,200 since summer 2021.
A Red C poll earlier this year found that 37 percent of people have cut back on essential heating and electricity use and 17 percent have cut back on other essentials such as food. The Society of St Vincent de Paul saw a 49 percent increase in the number of requests for help with energy costs in February 2022, compared to the same period last year. And energy poverty projections from the ESRI in July 2022 indicated that almost 70 percent of people could be plunged into energy poverty.
Some of the cost of living pressures faced by the public are driven by factors outside of the Government’s own hands e.g. war in Ukraine, Brexit, global supply disruptions.
However, other factors heaping ongoing pressure on households pre-date the war, and are entirely of the Government parties’ own making e.g. house prices, rents and childcare fees.
All of these pressures must be responded to by Budget 2023 and serious headway must be made towards making basic essentials affordable for workers and families next year.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- Putting one month’s rent back into renters’ pockets and ban rent increases for three years – cost €302.9 million
- Cutting electricity bills back to summer 2021 levels and keeping them there until the end of February 2023. For details see page 14 – cost €700 million in 2023
- Cutting childcare fees for parents by two thirds – cost €179 million
- Increasing the minimum wage by €1.40
- Cutting USC to give workers back €300 – cost €629 million
- Increasing working age weekly social welfare rates by €17.50, pensions by €15 and €17.50 for those living alone, disability-related payments by €20, increases for qualified children by €5 and €3 for over 12s and under-12s respectively – cost €1.29 billion
- Abolish student fees commencing with a reduction of €1000 and increase SUSI maintenance grants by 25 percent compared to 2020/21 levels – cost €57.7 million
- Support businesses with rising energy costs through a combination of subsidies and loans – cost €225 million additional Exchequer funding in 2023
Sinn Féin has a fair and deliverable plan to tackle climate change that will ensure meeting our climate targets goes hand in hand with delivering a more secure and affordable life for workers and families.
We recognise that the causes and effects of climate change are not equally shared, with the top 10 percent of the Irish population by income level emitting nearly as much consumption emissions as the bottom 50 percent.
Indiscriminate carbon taxes not only place a disproportionate burden on those for whom alternatives are either unaffordable or unattainable, but fundamentally fail in deterring the greatest emitters. Our plan takes the opposite approach. By increasing and redirecting state investment, we will ensure that ordinary workers and families can avail of the alternatives and the benefits of a just transition.
Whereas the Government’s climate approach to ordinary workers and families is defined by punitive action, Sinn Féin believe that affordable and attainable alternatives should come first.
Government policy remains insufficient and at times contrary to its climate targets – their approach to data centres is a case in point. Of all EU member states, Ireland has been reported to have the third highest Greenhouse Gas Emissions per capita. If every state followed the policy trajectory of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party, the chances of keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C would have dissipated.
Our proposals will fundamentally reform how retrofits are funded, targeted, and delivered. In Budget 2023, we would invest €480 million – an additional €150 million compared to the 2022 allocation by Government for retrofits – for residential and community retrofit schemes.
Under the Government’s retrofit programme, many households can only access support for a decent home energy upgrade if they have €25,000 on hand – this locks out low and middle income households while giving those with money more money for a more comfortable home.
Sinn Féin propose an entirely new approach. Across our retrofit schemes, public funding will be proportionately allocated based on household income, so that those least able to afford home energy upgrades and most at risk of energy poverty are given the greatest levels of support.
Sinn Féin also propose to allocate the necessary resources to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, in a manner which maximises energy security and affordability for individuals and communities. Poor policy choices and failure to invest by successive Governments has meant that unlike Denmark, Ireland failed to transform our immense natural resources into national wealth.
This failure to realise the potential of our own wind and solar resources and consequent failure to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels at pace also left us excessively exposed to the negative impacts of energy crises arising from global events that are out of our hands. From increasing funding in community- owned renewables to improving the affordability of solar PVs for households, our proposals would ensure that our citizens and communities retain the benefits from our natural wealth, both in the long and short term.
The Covid-19 public health crisis demonstrated what can be achieved when everybody pulls together. Climate plans pursued by Governments will only work if they are experienced fairly.
The punitive and regressive carbon tax, which punishes those least able to afford their basic energy and fuel bills most, is felt all the more painfully when the wealthiest in society flaunt their climate-destroying lifestyles. From pollution taxes on private flights to wealth taxes, Sinn Féin will instead tackle excessive carbon pollution and its underlying root in inordinate inequality.
We need a new Government to change the focus from aspirational climate targets to real, fair, and ambitious climate actions. This will only happen with a Sinn Féin Government.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- Investing to accelerate the transition to renewable energy including through resourcing the planning system to speed up the development of offshore wind generation, putting solar panels on school roofs and enhancing grants to support those on low and middle incomes to install them on their homes – cost €44 million
- Making the temporary 20 percent fare reduction on public transport permanent and extend it to commercial operators, and reducing fares for children by 50 percent throughout 2023, accelerating the roll-out of the Connecting Ireland rural bus scheme, expanding school transport capacity and phasing out fees permanently – first year cost €160 million
- Imposing a Pollution Tax on private jets with a levy of €3,000 per departure – raises €18 million
Sinn Féin would reset relations between the public, healthcare workers, and the State to place dignity, respect, and fairness at the heart of healthcare.
The cost of living crisis is compounding the health crisis. The burden of healthcare on households, including visits to GPs, cost of hospital stays, and prescriptions is felt all the more heavily when energy and food bills, rents and mortgages are rocketing.
The lack of affordable housing is also a major barrier to the recruitment and retention of staff in our health system.
The crisis in healthcare shares similar causes with the housing crisis. Both are a result of a failure in planning and a failed ideology which has damaged public services.
The Sláintecare consensus has failed to deliver meaningful change for workers and families because it is a myth. There is no consensus. The current Government parties have failed to implement Sláintecare because they do not believe in it. They view healthcare as a privilege for those who can afford it not as an equal right for everybody.
This is holding up the radical change needed to deliver universal healthcare with free GP care and short waiting times.
Sinn Féin’s priority in health is to deliver an Irish National Health Service which ends the two-tier health system and delivers timely health and social care on the basis of need, not ability to pay.
We would significantly cut out-of-pocket costs for healthcare from inpatient charges to prescription drug costs. We would make immediate expansions and investment in GP access and primary care staffing.
We would plan on a multi-annual basis to deliver a universal health service within 10 years. That will require substantial investment in hospital capacity, community capacity, primary care capacity, digital transformation, specialist services, and training the future health workforce.
In 2023, a Sinn Féin Government would invest more than €1.1 billion in new measures towards an Irish National Health Service. This is comprised of an additional €657.8 million for current expenditure measures and €461.7 million in capital or one-off spending.
This €1.1bn is for new measures over and above provision for outstanding Budget 2021 and Budget 2022 measures, NDP commitments, and other pre-committed expenditure items relating to pay including the latest deal currently under consideration by the trade unions, demographics, carryover, ELS, and other non- pay pressures.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- Funding an expansion of GP Visit Card eligibility to provide free GP care for additional 300,000 people – cost €40 million
- Reducing other costs of healthcare by capping monthly drugs payments at €70, abolishing prescription charges, removing inpatient charges over two years, and reducing and capping car parking charges for patients – cost €94.8 million
- Expanding acute hospital capacity including more than 500 hospital beds, 37 critical care beds, a 10 percent expansion of theatre capacity, and 150,000 diagnostic scans – cost €313 million
- Establishing a clear, multi-annual strategic workforce plan across the health and higher education sector to expand healthcare degree places by 1,500; increase medical specialist training places by 10 percent; expand GP training places by 20 percent; and expand training places for advanced practice and specialist nursing as well as clinical, counselling, and educational psychology – cost €21.8 million (Health) and €9.3 million (Further and Higher Education)
- Investing in a significant expansion of mental health services to deliver early intervention, out of hours, and emergency services – cost €81.6 million
- Funding the recommendations of the Disability Capacity Review out to 2032 – cost €152.7 million
- Through these measures, expanding the healthcare workforce across primary, community, and acute care by 5,000 workers next year
Sinn Féin would cut childcare fees by two thirds, putting money back into the pockets of hard-pressed families.
The rising prices of some things are outside of Government control, however, the sky-high prices of others, like childcare, are of their own making.
Delivering affordable childcare should be an urgent priority for Government because it is one area where immediate action could be taken to tackle the cost of living crisis. Unfortunately, the Government has previously made glossy announcements for childcare which have only served to disappoint families as they fail time and time again to deliver fairer fees. It is time to deliver real change for families.
Sinn Féin’s proposals will deliver affordable, good quality childcare, well paid careers for highly qualified professionals and sustainable services.
We would cut childcare fees by two thirds to make childcare affordable for parents. This can be done.
Parents’ are currently spending approximately €400 million on childcare fees. We would provide two thirds of this [€270 million] in additional public investment on condition providers reduce fees for parents by two thirds – one third in 2022 and one third next year.
Reducing parents’ fees by one third for the remainder of this year would cost €134 million for 2023. However, we propose a second one third fee reduction in September 2023 which would cost a further €45 million. The annual cost of a full year of the two thirds reduction is €270 million.
We would offer childcare facilities the option of entering a scheme where the state provides additional funding to cover some of the costs currently covered by parents’ fees, such as wages or overheads. In return, providers would reduce fees for parents by two thirds over the next two years. This would be guaranteed under legislation.
This would make a real difference for families’ finances and ensure they get a much-needed break from the cost of living crisis. Full-time childcare fees are on average €810 per month per child and even higher in parts of Dublin. For example, for an 18-month-old child in creche full-time in Dublin, our measures would reduce their fees by €6,639 per annum.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- Cutting childcare fees for parents by two thirds – cost €179 million in 2023, full year cost €270 million
Sinn Fein will fix our broken housing system. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s policies made the housing crisis, and their vested interests and choices are making it worse. A change of Government is needed to unravel and reverse decades of bad housing policy.
A Sinn Féin Government is needed to deliver 20,000 public homes next year to meet social and affordable housing need, to ban rent increases for all existing and new tenancies and to put a month’s rent back in every private renter’s pocket with a refundable tax credit.
In the last two years, rents have increased by 15 percent and house prices by 20 percent. A new rental in Dublin is now more than €2,000 per month.
An entire generation is locked out of home ownership. The number of young people forced to live with their parents because of the high cost of housing is remarkably high.
Since the Government ended the ban on evictions in April 2021, homelessness has increased by 30 percent, pensioner homelessness has increased by 27 percent and, shockingly, child homelessness has jumped by 43 percent.
Meanwhile, despite the reality that Ireland is a wealthy country and the existence of tens of thousands of vacant properties, delivery of social and affordable housing continues to lag way behind demand and the Government’s targets are simply too low.
Sinn Féin would increase the government’s 2023 targets of 12,600 social and affordable homes, by allocating the additional funding necessary to deliver an extra 7,400 homes. We provide for 2,900 social homes, 2,250 affordable cost rental homes and 2,250 affordable homes for purchase above the Government’s targets.
We would deliver on our target of 20,000 public homes through a combination of greater use of vacant and derelict properties, accelerating existing public housing delivery, use of turnkey pre-purchased developments for affordable housing and the use of new low carbon building technologies.
We know that it takes time to build homes, but renters cannot wait for relief any longer. Action to reduce rents is needed now and only a Sinn Féin Government would deliver this.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- Delivering 20,000 social and affordable homes – cost additional €1.08 billion voted capital expenditure, €1.48 billion general Government expenditure
- Put one month’s rent back into renters’ pockets and ban increases for three years – cost €302.9 million
Sinn Féin believe that a special focus from all of Government is needed to ensure that people with disabilities are not further disadvantaged by the cost of living crisis.
We are also fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the Disability Capacity Review 2021-2032 to address unmet need and demographic change over the next decade.
We would also use the opportunity of this Budget to begin to address pre-existing scandals and shortcomings in provision.
Significant and sustained public investment is needed to address unacceptably long waiting times faced by children who need assessments and therapy interventions, insufficient numbers of places in schools for children with special educational needs, persistently low levels of employment amongst people with disabilities despite a widespread desire for work and career aspirations held by many which could be realised with the correct supports, and the appallingly high rate of poverty and enforced deprivation across households headed by a person with a disability.
The Government’s record on equality and inclusion is poor. The failure of Government to ensure that every child had a place in school, the thankfully withdrawn but ultimately appalling suggestion that children in need of special classes in mainstream schools be segregated in disability centres instead, is illustrative of a Government incapable of planning for the predictable or delivering the basics and willing to heap the negative consequences on our most vulnerable.
These parties have also inadequately funded this sector for many years. A Sinn Féin Government would both invest and plan ahead.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- Funding the recommendations of the Disability Capacity Review out to 2032 – cost €152.7 million
- Increasing Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Illness Benefit and other related benefits by €20 per week, Carers Allowance and Benefit by €17.50 per week and the annual Carer Support Grant to €2,000 – cost €369 million
- Investing in lifelong inclusion in learning by increasing funding for pre-school provision though AIMs, hiring 600 additional Special Education Teachers, 1,200 SNAs and 20 educational psychologists and rolling out career supports for young people with disabilities across the country based on the WALK PEER model – cost €27.6 million
- Reforming the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passenger’s Scheme – cost €22 million
- Investing in the future growth of disability services by expanding the number of undergraduate places in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and psychology – cost €9.3 million
- Funding targeted recruitment and retention measures for children’s disability services – cost €10 million
- Making greater provision for people with disabilities to live in appropriate accommodation by investing in decongregation, group and independent living in the community, 150,000 Personal Assistance and Home Support hours and making public transport accessible – cost €122.4 million
- Creating more spaces in adult day services and opportunities for respite – cost €28.3 million
Planning for Irish Unity
Change is in the air and people across the island are assessing, debating and discussing the type of future that is possible.
The pace of this discourse is accelerating, both inside and outside of the political systems in Dublin, Belfast, London, Brussels and beyond.
Sinn Féin believe that, within this decade, the people will have the opportunity to freely choose new constitutional and political arrangements on this island, as underpinned by the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.
Government needs to start preparing a White Paper for Irish unity. This should be led by the Department of the Taoiseach, from within existing Departmental resources.
Everyone who has a stake in this transformation from across this island must be involved in designing what shape that takes.
Sinn Féin is committed to investing in connectivity and growth across the island of Ireland including funding of the A5 as provided for in the NDP. The time to start planning for Irish Unity is now.
Sinn Féin priority measures include:
- A Citizens’ Assembly – cost €1.5 million
- Increasing investment in Tourism Ireland and Foras na Gaeilge – cost €7 million
For a full breakdown of costs and expenditure please download our Budget document below.