Greens welcome supports for communities, transport and vulnerable in society as part of Budget 2021
8th December, 2020
Budget 2021 sees carbon tax income to be distributed to lower income households
Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Fingal T.D. Joe O’Brien announced €341 million allocation for rural and community development in Budget 2021.
The Skerries based T.D. also welcomed funding for sustainable transport and targeted measures in the budget to provide supports for lower income households through redistribution of money raised through the carbon tax to increase the Qualified Child Payment, the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance.
Speaking about the Budget which was announced on 13th October, Minister O’Brien said;
“Broadly speaking this is a hugely positive budget with key investments in areas that have faced unprecedented challenges in the face of the pandemic. It will see the reduction in pupil teacher ratios at primary level and €1.8 billion in funding for sustainable transport, cycling, walking and greenways and this will help facilitate the delivery of the Fingal Coastal Way, which will be a wonderful amenity for all our towns and villages in Fingal.
“The introduction of a carbon tax may have concerned those on lower incomes however we have fundamentally changed how carbon tax revenues are used. The carbon tax is now an anti-poverty tool, revenues from it will raise the incomes of those who are poorest and help tackle child poverty. It will fund annual increases of €364 to the Qualified Child Payment, €260 to the Living Alone Allowance and an annual increase of €112 to the Fuel Allowance. These payments directly target the more financially vulnerable in our communities and are a direct result of the work of the Green Party.”
“Measures that will benefit other vulnerable people in our communities included an increase to the carers support grant by €150, an extra five million in home care hours, €5 million for community-based dementia support service, €100 million has been committed to disability supports under the new Children’s Disability Network, an increase of 990 new SNAs and an increase of €5.5m to the Hot School Meals Programme.”
With the ongoing harsh impact of Covid_19 being felt by many in our communities, I was particularly pleased to see the Budget extends the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) until April 1st and those on PUP will receive the Christmas Bonus from the Department of Social Protection. A much-needed increase €1.9 billion has been allocated to the Health budget bringing it to over €22 billion which will ensure we are best placed to deal with the ongoing implications of the pandemic and crucially €38 million for new mental health measures. The potential impact of Covid on our mental well-being cannot be overstated, Covid has brought about dramatic changes as to how we live our lives and how it significantly curtailed our time spent with family, friends and loved ones.”
Also speaking on the Budget 2021 measures was Councillor Karen Power, who said;
“When changes to tax & social welfare allowances are analysed, the results show that the 40% of the lower income households benefit the most from Budget 2021. This is due to the fact that any regressive impact of the carbon tax is offset by the wider income and welfare supports introduced. The net gains from this will go to the bottom 40 per cent of the income distribution. This would not have happened without the Green Party at the table. A budget in the most trying of times and without the Green Party it would not contain the sheer measure of social protections it does.”
“The Budget will also see a massive scale up in retrofitting our homes, including social homes which is vital. As well as the obvious positive impact on climate, retrofitting homes will play an important role in our economic recovery. It is a highly labour-intensive sector and will create high-quality, sustainable jobs in Fingal.”
The budget also includes €300m for a further commercial rates waiver for the final quarter of this year, providing significant relief for businesses and Local Authorities, and an additional €15 million in capital funding to support the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
Under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, there will be a €5 million investment in facilities for digital hubs and broadband connection points across rural Ireland, aimed at enhancing remote working capability and remote access for students. The budget will also increase investment in the Ireland’s islands, the LEADER, Local Improvement and CLÁR schemes, as well as €2 million extra to fund masterplans for up to 50 town centres.
To tackle local environmental issues, €25.5m has been allocated to supporting a cleaner environment through tackling landfill and dumping issues, €38m will be spent on renewable energy including €3m to help communities to put together their own energy projects, and €1.3 billion will be spent water services and next year.
For further information please contact Karen Power
Tel: 089 965 4529