Be Part of Building a New Republic

Joint approach needed to tackle poverty – Jennifer McCann

20 January, 2014 - by Jennifer McCann

Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has called for a more collaborative approach to tackling poverty.

Speaking at an event organised by Belfast Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir this morning she said:

“Last week we saw another two reports from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Oxfam show that poverty levels here are increasing. We are also seeing high levels of debt and more people having to go to food banks to feed their families.

“No government agency or community or voluntary organisation can work on its own to overcome the enormous challenges facing us. We need to look to the longer-term if we are serious about tackling poverty, ensuring families have adequate income and people have work that pays a living wage.

“Our children and young people must have the opportunity to achieve improved educational outcomes, are healthy, safe and live in a society that respects their rights.

“Focusing on a smaller number of actions, which will really make a difference is at the heart of the Executive’s Delivering Social Change framework.

“We recognised that a new approach was needed to tackling multi-generational poverty. That approach is based on partnership and working to achieve tangible, long lasting social benefits for those who need it most.

“It is only through working together that we have the ability to tackle the scourge of poverty and build a better future for all of our children and young people.”

Sinn Féin Budget 2016

  • Delivering a Fair Recovery
    • Introduction

      Over the last decade people have been pushed to the limit as a result of the Government’s austerity policy. While things are undoubtedly getting better for some, for the vast majority little has changed in their day-to-day lives. The Government is merely offering more of the same and unless there is a dramatic change, the impact of the cuts will be felt for years to come.

      The reality is that despite the economic crisis, the wealthiest in society have become richer.

      This is a policy, not an accident.

      So, while 250 individuals saw their combined wealth increase by 16% to €75 billion in the last twelve months, the reality for the average family continues to be lower income as a result of wage cuts, the USC, water charges and property tax. This is on top of the high cost of childcare, health care, housing, education and other necessities. It is these families who need to be supported in Budget 2016.

      When they got into Government, Fine Gael and Labour threw their election manifestos in the bin and instead implemented Fianna Fáil’s economic plan. Their cynical move has prolonged the recession, forced half a million people to emigrate and destroyed core elements of our public services.

      Nowhere is this more obvious than in the health service. Enda Kenny and Joan Burton can cry crocodile tears and talk about a crisis in the health service, but what is happening is not some unforeseen disaster. It is the outworking of Government policy.

      You cannot take 9,255 whole time equivalent staff out of the public health system in four and a half years without an impact. The reason that an elderly cancer patient spent five days on a trolley at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in drogheda last month is because of Government policy and if we want things as shameful as this to stop happening we need to change Government policy. Investment in core public services needs to be urgently prioritised.

      The Government’s plan for a 50:50 split between spending and tax cuts isn’t the answer. It’s an electoral ploy. The Sinn Féin plan is based on ‘delivering a Fair Recovery’ and in it we have four key priorities:

      • Fair taxation – this means easing the tax burden on the average worker, including those who are self-employed and asking those who earn the most to pay their fair share.
      • An investment of over €1.7 billion in public expenditure – this means 1,000 more Gardaí, an additional 1,000 frontline posts in health to include nurses, midwives and consultants and more than 1,700 teachers.
      • Ambitious capital spend programme of €400 million.
      • Promoting the all-Ireland economy.
    • In Budget 2016 Sinn Féin will:
      • Put between €600 and €2,000 into the pockets of the average worker or family, depending on their wage and family circumstances, by abolishing the property tax, stopping water charges, removing approximately 100,000 workers from the uSC, expanding access to childcare, reducing the cost of health care, and assisting with education costs.
      • Prioritise investment in health, education and childcare.
      • Invest in disability services and supports.
      • Support and encourage SMEs and entrepreneurs through the introduction of the self-employed tax credit, the provision of seed capital and other measures.
      • Increase funding to build social houses, to tackle the homeless crisis, and to make capital investment to grow the economy.
      • Explore the creation of a Border Economic development Zone to harmonise trade and maximise returns for border businesses.
    • Who is paying most under Fine Gael/Labour policies?
      • 1.8 million households are paying an average of €244 each year in property tax.
      • 300,000 mortgage holders are paying thousands extra each year because the Government refuses to deal with variable interest rates being well above the Eurozone average of 2.7% approx.. A 1% reduction would save mortgage holders an average of €2,000 a year on a €200,000 mortgage.
      • Almost 5,000 people were homeless in July 2015, including 1,495 children.
      • 7,775 patients were on hospital trollies in June 2015, including two elderly women of over 100 years of age.
      • 77,000 carers had their respite grant cut by 20%.
      • 615,000 families are in receipt of child benefit for 1.2 million children. Over three budgets FF/FG and Labour slashed child benefit.
    • Who is gaining under Fine Gael and Labour?
      • 250 individuals saw their wealth increase by 16% to €75 billion in the last twelve months alone.
      • 121 people availed of the SARP tax relief for high earners at a cost of €1.895 million to the Exchequer in 2013.
      • Anglo senior bondholders were paid in full with billions of euro of taxpayers money.
      • Some special advisors to Government ministers continue to be paid well above the pay cap – up to €156,380 for Enda Kenny’s advisors and €119,577 in Joan Burton’s office.
      • Property developers were paid €11 million a year in wages by NAMA. 15 were paid between €150,000 to €199,000 per year.
      • Secretary Generals of Government departments: the Secretary General in the department of Jobs retired in May 2011 aged 59 with a lump sum of €380,452, a gross severance gratuity in the amount of €126,817 and is entitled to receive a gross annual pension of €126,817.
    • The crisis in health is government policy

      There were 7,775 people on hospital trolleys in June. This was the highest ever level of overcrowding in the month of June since the InMO started Trolley Watch over 12 years ago. Every month we hear horror stories about the treatment of our elderly in A&E units, with not enough beds or staff. This has long ceased to be a crisis. It’s government policy and it needs to change.

      December 2014

      An 87-year old woman spent 57 hours on a trolley and on a chair in a hall in university Hospital Limerick.

      February 2015

      A 100-year-old woman was left waiting 24 hours on a trolley in Tallaght hospital – suffering from a potentially serious infection. She was one of up to ten patients over the age of 80 left waiting on trolleys up to 23 hours to be seen.

      June 2015

      Two elderly ladies, both over a hundred years old, had to suffer the indignity of spending more than 24 hours on a trolley awaiting a hospital bed.

      September 2015

      An elderly cancer patient spent five days on a trolley at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in drogheda. The emergency department in drogheda is short of five nurses in a hospital that this year recorded its highest level of overcrowding since 2006.

    • Fianna Fáil brought the economy to its knees

      Fianna Fáil squandered the boom and brought the economy to its knees. They protected the wealthiest in society, including the property developers and the senior bankers, and forced ordinary people to pay by imposing new taxes and charges, delivering savage cuts to public services and forcing half a million people to emigrate. And if they had been re-elected in 2011 they would have continued to do the same. Fine Gael and Labour have implemented the Fianna Fáil plan. Just prior to the 2011 General Election, Fianna Fáil signed up to the four-year so-called national Recovery Plan, which committed them to four years of tax increases, spending cuts and cuts to public services. – The party’s plan wanted to:

      • Introduce water charges – with a scheme for the metering of the domestic sector with charging for domestic water by 2014
      • Cut public service staff numbers by 24,750 over 2008 levels (when we were just below the OECD average in staffing levels)
      • Increase the student contribution to the costs of third-level education
      • Cut the minimum wage by €1 per hour
      • Impose cuts to Social Welfare
      • Impose cuts to school funding, including all capitation grants, grants for Adult Literacy, Community Education, School Completion Programme and Youthreach.
  • Overall Balance Sheet
    Tax Income 1,110.7
    Tax Spend -815
    Net Tax Increase 295.7
    Savings 341.12
    Spend -1,736.82
    Net Expenditure -1,395.7
    Spend -400
    Fiscal space 1,500
    Tax 295.7
    Expenditure -1,395.7
    Capital -400
    Balance -1500
  • Sinn Féin Budget 2016 Proposals
    • Investment/Spending

      Capital investment programme Total: €400 million

      Spending total: €1736.82 million

      Homelessness and refuge services Cost €25.45m
      Dealing with the Crisis in the Health System Cost €383m
      Putting Key Resources back into Education Cost €180.19m
      Supporting Parents, Investing in Childcare Cost €238.28m
      Tackling Income Inequality Cost €289.92m
      Protecting Communities Cost €21.7m
      Establish an Equality and Budgetary Advisory Body Cost €1.1m
      Irish Language and supporting the Gaeltacht Cost €5.95m
      Frontline Workforce Cost €20m
      Introduce a Living Wage across the civil service Cost €1.5m
      Double current Trading Online Voucher Scheme for 2016 Cost €2.73m
      Lansdowne Road Agreement/Haddington Road Agreement Cost €267m
      Provision for demographics Cost €300m
    • Savings

      Savings Total: €341.12 million

      Reduce public sector pay and pensions of the highest earners in the public sector Saves €15.28m
      Reduce Oireachtas pay (€75,000 TDs, €60,000 Senators) and allowances including the Taoiseach and Ministers (by 50% on portion of salary over €75,000) Saves €5.59m
      Reduce General Government Expenditure Saves €21.45m
      As part of the abolition of water charges withdraw the Water Conservation Grant Saves €130m
      2% reduction in branded medicines Saves €36m
      Phased withdrawal of private school annual state subsidy over five years Saves €20.6m
      Regulation of the Financial Sector Saves €70m
      Wind-down JobBridge Scheme Saves €7.9m
      Cancel Gateway Scheme Saves €5.6m
      Greater use of JobsPlus (5,000) Saves €28.7m
    • Tax Spend

      Tax Spend Total: €815 million

      Easing the burden on families, workers and businesses
      Abolition of the Property Tax Cost €440m
      End water charges Cost €210.5m
      Take workers earning €19,572 or less out of the USC Cost €93m
      Introduce Tax Credits for the Self Employed Cost €39m
      Increase employee & employer PRSI bands in line with Sinn Féin’s €1 per hour increase to the national Minimum Wage Cost €21.5m
      Making the Gaeltacht more affordable Cost €4.5m
      Abolish administration fee from VRT Export Repayment Scheme Cost €1m
      Encouraging Entrepreneurs Cost €5m
      Extend the 50% relief for indigenous Craft Beer to 35,000 hectolitres Cost €0.5m
    • Tax Yield

      Tax Yield Total: €1,110.7 million

      Capital and Property Taxes
      Re-introduce the second home charge and increase to €400 per annum Yield €110m
      Increase Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on passive investments by 2% to 35% Yield €0
      Increase Capital Acquisitions Tax by 3% to 36% Yield €31m
      Excise duties & Levies
      Increase betting shop tax to be applied to customer to 3% Yield €50m
      Duty on Liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes Yield €8.3m
      Increase excise duty on a packet of cigarettes by 20c Yield €26m
      Increase Bank Levy from 35% to 45% Yield €44m
      Introduce a 5% Sugary Sweetened drinks Tax Yield €49m
      Income Tax
      Increase tax paid on income over €100,000 by 7 cent in each euro Yield €283m
      Introduce new 15.75% rate of Employers PRSI on portion of salary in excess of €100,000 Yield €267.4m
      Tax Evasion
      Increase Revenue Commissioner’s activity to target tax evasion Yield €25m
      Reduce the ‘earnings cap’ for pension contributions from €115,000 per annum to €60,000 Yield €135m
      Standardise the relief at which tax back can be claimed, beginning with a reduction to 35% in 2016 Yield €82m
  • Case Studies
    • Married, one child, one self-employed earner

      Donal and Mary are married living in a home they own in dublin with one child aged 15. donal works as carpenter earning €40,000. Donal will benefit from a tax credit as a self-employed earner to the value of €500. An increase in their child benefit of €60 (€5 per month).Tax credit for their son who will attend Irish College in the summer of 2016 of €190. Abolition of the property tax saves the family €420. Abolition of water charges saves €260. Income increases by €1,430.

      Income: €40,000

      • Self-employed tax credit: +€500
      • Child Benefit increase: +€60
      • College tax Credit: +€190
      • Abolished Property tax: +€420
      • Abolished water Charges: +€260

      Total income increase: €1,430

    • Married with two children, both PAYE workers

      John and Aine are married living in a home they own in donegal. John works as a forklift driver on €40,000 and Aine works in a care home earning €20,000. They have two children aged 18 and 19 both in college. John and Aine will benefit through: Abolition of the property tax €315. Abolition of water charges €260. Reduce third level student contribution fee by €1,000 (€500 x 2). Their income is increased by €1,575.

      Income 1: €40,000 Income 2: €20,000

      • Abolished Property tax: +€315
      • Abolished water Charges: +€260
      • Reduced third level fee: +€1,000

      Total income increase: €1,575

    • Living alone, retired and on state pension

      Josephine 76 is retired, living in her own home in Cork City. Josephine benefits from: Abolition of water charges €160. Abolition of property tax €283. Increase Fuel Allowance by 3 weeks, worth a total of €60. €9.50 per month to provide for a telephone allowance, equalling €114 per year. Josephine’s income increases by €617.

      • Abolished Property tax: +€283
      • Abolished water Charges: +€160
      • Increase Fuel Allowance: +€60
      • Telephone Allowance: +€114

      Total income increase: €617

    • College graduate, unemployed

      Michael has just graduated from NUIG and is unemployed. Michael will benefit from an additional €40 per week in his jobseekers’ payments. Michael won’t have to pay water charges for his accommodation saving him €160. His total income is increased by €2,240.

      • Jobseekers increase: +€2,080
      • Abolished water Charges: +€160

      Total income increase: €2,240

    • Single, 50, with grown up children living abroad

      Mary is single, 50, living in rented accomodation and her grown up children now live abroad. She works 30 hours each week in her local shop earning the national minimum wage. Mary will benefit by: €1 per hour increase to the national minimum wage giving her an additional €1,560 each year. Our increase in the PRSI exemption in tandem with the minimum wage increase means Mary will continue to be exempt from PRSI. Mary will no longer have to pay uSC putting €286 back into her pocket each year. She will also save €160 as she will not have to pay water charges. Mary’s total income will increase by €2,006

      • Minimum wage increase: +€1,560
      • uSC exemption: +€286
      • Abolished water Charges: +€160

      Total income increase: €2,006

  • Part 1 - Cherishing All Citizens Of The Nation Equally
    • Enhanced capital investment programme – cost €400m

      Sinn Féin is proposing an enhanced €400 million capital investment programme prioritising housing build (€300 million), roads and broadband provision.

      The Government intends to increase capital spend by €180 million in 2016. In its first year in office, with its first budget, it slashed €750 million from the capital budget. In any recovery, this budget has to be substantially increased, both to remedy the damage done to existing services and stock and also to stimulate the economy through job creation and materials consumption.

      We are substantially increasing housing build spend to address the housing crisis and to create jobs in 2016. There are officially 89,872 households on local authority waiting lists. However, recent figures suggest the number in need of housing could be as high as 130,000 households.

      We do not believe the Government’s Housing 2020 strategy will deliver on its promises and its funding sources and commitments are vague in detail.

      €300 million will allow for a further 1,680 houses to be built in 2016 on top of existing government plans.

    • Homelessness and refuge services – cost €25.45m

      Funding for emergency homeless accommodation - Cost €20m

      In the first half of 2015 over 1,000 children were sleeping in emergency accommodation every night. 78 families are presenting as homeless each month. All the major homeless charities have stated that their budgets cannot cope. Local Authority services are straining. The government’s claim that funding is not the issue is at odds with the view of on-the-ground responders to homelessness. The number of placements into emergency accommodation in dublin increased from 147 per night in 2014 to 227 per night in Q1 2015 (Focus Ireland/Peter McVerry Trust). It costs an average of €3 million to house 50 families in emergency accommodation per annum.

      We are calling for – in line with a series of other measures outlined in our full housing policy to be launched this autumn – an additional emergency €20 million for 2016 to ensure no family is left sleeping on the streets next year. We are also demanding that Minister Alan Kelly fulfil his promises on funding due to be released to Local Authorities and that the Government meets its commitment to cover 90% of section 10 funding for homeless services.

      Increase funding for women’s refuges - Cost €5.45m

      In June of this year, Women’s Aid released its annual report and stated that in 2014 it had received complaints of 16,464 cases of violence against women, some of them repeat instances, as well as 5,786 child abuse reports. domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children, but worse, the absence of enough refuge spaces for women trying to escape abusive partners is forcing them to stay in violent and sometimes life-threatening relationships. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, reported that up to 80 per cent of women fleeing domestic violence were turned away from dublin refuges in the first quarter of this year because of the crisis in accommodation in the capital city (Irish Times July 2015). We believe funding for refuges should be ringfenced from all cuts and an increase of €5.45 million be applied to this budget.

    • Dealing with the crisis in the health system – cost €383m

      Emergency Department trolley crisis – Cost €86.28m

      Emergency Department (ED) services have been at crisis point for some time, as regularly highlighted by the ‘Trolley Watch’ survey carried out by the Irish nurses and Midwives Organisation. The trolley crisis is not just an Ed crisis but a symptom of the malaise that is endemic across the wider health system. It is primarily due to a lack of capacity resulting from the chronic failure of government to provide adequate funding to the public health system. There are insufficient staff and beds in the acute hospital system; insufficient exit packages; and insufficient nursing home beds or home care options. Sinn Féin is prioritising the provision of an additional 500 nurses to tackle the crisis in the Eds themselves and to open further beds across the system. We would also increase the number of Registered nurse Prescribers. And in developing sustainable solutions to the issue of delayed discharges we have provided for additional nursing home beds, home help hours and home care packages.

      Waiting times crisis - Cost €55.83m

      The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has highlighted the real cost to the health system of agency consultants, which work out at twice the price of a long-serving permanent consultant and three times the cost of a new consultant. Sinn Féin has prioritised the recruitment of an additional 250 hospital consultants and medical secretaries for 2016. These posts are vital if we are to tackle shamefully long waiting times for consultations and treatments.

      Increase maternity resources - Cost €15.16m

      Ireland had the highest per capita birth rate of all 28 member countries of the Eu in 2014. despite this, maternity care in Ireland has been left in crisis, with shortages of staff in hospitals across the state. Our maternity services are severely understaffed, lacking both midwives and obstetricians. Sinn Féin would recruit an additional 250 midwives, and obstetricians and gynaecologists from our new consultant intake for 2016.

      Increase investment in mental health services - Cost €29.16m

      Year after year the Government has failed to deliver on its mental health commitments. despite a greater need for mental health services, there are 1,200 fewer mental health staff now than there were in 2006. Sinn Féin believes that the ‘A Vision for Change’ strategy for mental health must be implemented. We intend to address staffing-level shortcomings with a particular focus on staffing Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams, the provision of suicide critical assessment nurses and mental health intellectual disability posts and increasing access to the Counselling in Primary Care service.

      Increase funding to disability services - Cost €45.89m

      565,000 people in this state reported having various forms of disability in the last census. Disability is a societal issue, affecting people of all ages and their families, directly and indirectly. despite disability having being proclaimed as a focus for the Government, the recession and austerity imposed has seen a reduction in services for those with disabilities in the order of 14-16%. Sinn Féin’s budget proposals provide for between 500 and 600 occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, and psychologists, and additional funding for personal assistant hours and community based neuro-rehabilitation teams and transitional services.

      Medical Card Reform - Cost €21.29m

      Some of our sickest and most vulnerable citizens continue to go without medical cards. With the exception of childhood cancer, the time- consuming and onerous financial audit of the entire household remains the sole criteria upon which eligibility for a medical card is based. This is despite promises by government to build compassion into the system. Our proposals include providing an automatic medical card for children with significant medical needs arising from serious illness or disability. Further provisions for the extension of free GP visits to the remainder of the population, commencing with lower income households and for the expansion of GP capacity to facilitate this roll-out will be included in an upcoming Health Policy document. We are now providing for an initial increase in the number of GPs in training.

      Address high cost of prescription charges and medicines - Cost €33.9m

      The overwhelming body of evidence shows that charges for drugs can lead to higher costs on the health budget in the medium to longer term, not to mention the serious strain and ill effects they can have on the health of those who need medications. As a first step in phasing them out, we would reduce the charge per prescription by 50c as well as lowering the drug Payment Scheme monthly limit from €144 to €132.

      Increase investment in dental care - Cost €81.1m

      During the recession there has been a drastic scaling back across the three main fields of public-funded dental provision. As with other frontline services the recruitment moratorium has had a negative effect on frontline dental services, and waiting lists have become shamefully long. We would provide an additional 80 dentists, including orthodontists, and 120 dental nurses, expand orthodontic treatment for children, extend the annual dental check-up, and restore funding for maintenance treatments.

      Increase emergency ambulance cover - Cost €7.8m

      Many communities across the country experience long and dangerous delays waiting for ambulances. HIQA sets the targets in which 80 per cent of life-threatening cardiac or respiratory emergency calls for emergency assistance are supposed to be dealt with within 8 minutes. Last year just 26.6% of such calls were responded to within this time. In rural areas just 6.6% of calls were responded to within the eight-minute target time. We would increase emergency ambulance cover by providing two additional ambulances, including personnel (88), for each of the four HSE regions.

      Increase funding for the national Drugs strategy - Cost €5.76m

      Problem drug use is a public health issue. In the nine years from 2004 to 2012 problem drug use played a role in the deaths of 5,289 people. That’s more than one death every single day. But despite the threat to the lives of so many, predominantly young men, funding for the health services vitally needed to stabilise and save these lives has been severely cut. We would increase funding for delivery of the national drugs Strategy.

      Additional funding to strengthen HIQA’s role - Cost €630,000

      HIQA has a varied and challenging workload in setting standards across the health sphere and monitoring whether they are adhered to, in hospital, residential homes, child care settings and technology relating to health care. HIQA needs to be adequately supported and resourced. We make an initial provision for additional staff.

      Increase funding to Healthy Ireland - Cost €200,000

      There are currently only five staff in the department of Health assigned to work in the Health and Wellbeing Programme, which is coordinating Healthy Ireland. Providing adequate funding for Healthy Ireland will help to ensure that citizens young and old are encouraged to achieve as high a level of health and wellbeing as possible.

    • Putting key resources back into education – total cost €180.19m

      Reduce primary school classes by one pupil - Cost €5m

      Many children are taught in overcrowded classrooms, with an average pupil-teacher ratio of 28:1. Sinn Féin agrees that smaller classes benefit young children and for this reason we would reduce class sizes by one pupil, which provides for an additional 250 teachers.

      Increase funding to school meal programme by 40% - Cost €16.09m

      Successive cuts to social protection measures that protect low income and vulnerable families have resulted in children going to school hungry and relying on breakfast clubs and the voluntary sector to ensure they get a healthy meal each day. We would increase the funding to the School Meal Programme, extending it to an additional 500 schools, to ensure children have access to food that is both filling and nutritious.

      Increase funding to school books grant by 30% - Cost €4.8m

      Barnardos’ annual School Cost Survey found that school books continue to be a substantial cost to parents, particularly for secondary school pupils, where they make up on average over 40% of the total cost. The charity also warned that the prices of school books appear to be increasing. We would increase funding to the School Book Grant Scheme.

      Increase the annual Back to school Clothing and Footwear Allowance by €50 - Cost €15.2m

      Barnardos’ have also found that two in five primary school parents and 55% of secondary school parents have applied for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, yet the charity reports an overwhelming sense that the payment is not sufficient to give adequate support to struggling families. This vital support has been cut in three separate budgets. In increasing the allowance by €50 we are supporting up to 300,000 children and their families.

      Increase capitation grant by 2% - Cost €11.4m

      Sinn Féin would increase the capitation rates for primary and secondary schools by 2% as we are aware of the difficulties faced by schools in meeting their basic running costs, such as providing light and heat and insurance for school buildings. Government cuts have put an undue burden on parents by way of voluntary contributions, as school management boards try to make up the decrease in funding. We are also proposing a 1% increase in the capitation grant rates for VTOS, YouthReach, BTEI, PLC and Adult Literacy.

      Reverse cut to provision of Guidance teachers in second level schools - Cost €14.7m

      Cuts to secondary-level guidance counselling provision has resulted in schools that are less well- off having no guidance service at all for their pupils. Guidance Counselling plays an important role in students’ lives and should be ring-fenced separately from teaching staff. Sinn Féin has provided for approximately 700 posts.

      Increase resource teaching hours for children with special needs by 15% - Cost €71m

      Since 2011, there has been a 15% reduction in the level of resource teaching hours allocated to children with special needs, despite there being an increase of over 8,000 children with special needs requiring resource hours since 2011. A child receiving 3 hours and 45 minutes of resource hours now, would have received 5 hours before the cuts introduced in 2010. It is essential that the 15% additional allocation of time is returned so that it is brought back up to the 2010/2011 levels. This measure would provide 1,183 additional posts.

      Increase teaching principal administration days to one extra day per month - Cost €2.2m

      Teaching principals in small schools are in effect doing two jobs. They need more free time from class in order to run the school effectively. We would increase the time out of classrooms for teaching principals by one day per month. This measure would require an additional 108 teaching posts’

      Reduce threshold for acquiring administrative principal from 178 to 145 - Cost €3.5m

      The threshold of 178 pupils for acquiring an administrative principal is too high. We would reduce this threshold to 145 pupils (creating 176 new teaching posts) so that children in small schools do not miss out. Where a teacher has responsibility for the leadership, management and administration of a school, they can become overburdened by the competing demands of being a principal as well as a teacher. When the small amount of time is taken up with managing the physical resources of the school, it takes away from the time a principal can dedicate to development, monitoring and coaching teaching standards of others, which can lead to a negative effect on pupils.

      Reduce third level student contribution fee by €500 - Cost €34m

      Increased student contribution fees are putting an undue hardship on many families, and some are being effectively priced out of education. The economic, employment and research impact of higher education is to the benefit of the whole of the society, not just students and graduates.

      Provide an additional 500 places on the Momentum scheme for Jobseekers with a disability Cost €2.3m

      The Momentum programme funds the provision of free education and training projects to allow jobseekers to gain skills and to access work opportunities in identified growing sectors, yet young people with a disability are currently excluded. We would fund an initial 500 Momentum places for young recipients of a disability Allowance.

    • Supporting parents, investing in childcare – cost €238.28m

      Extend the ECCE Programme to 48 weeks - Cost €44.20m

      The current free pre-school year or ECCE contract is not fit for purpose as it does not allow a sufficient margin for additional bills or costs. Many service providers operate at a loss, with many owner-managers taking no salary and staff signing on the dole during the summer months. A move towards a second free pre-school year should be progressed when the first year’s quality has been determined and secured. Extending the programme by ten weeks will, as an initial measure, address both childcare cost for parents during the summer period for that age group and contribute to easing financial hardship for employees in the sector.

      Provide an additional 1,000 SNAs to the ECCE Programme - Cost €11m

      The free pre-school year is universal in name only. Many children with special needs are prevented from availing of the government-subsidised scheme due to the absence of necessary supports. Minister Reilly states that currently no specific funding is available from his Department to provide additional support to children with special needs accessing the ECCE programme. 11% of early-years services were forced to refuse a child with additional needs last year (2014) because they were unable to meet his/her needs. (Early Childhood Ireland). The above measure would go some way to addressing the crisis as well as creating employment.

      Increase capitation grant for the free pre-school year - Cost €16.5m

      An increase in the capitation paid per child will make improvement in quality provision in ECCE services possible. We want to increase capitation grants for the Free Pre-School Year by €5 per week to €67.50, and by €9.50 for the higher capitation rate to €82.50. The higher capitation grant is paid to services that have a level 7-led room (graduate-led provision). The payment should be linked to quality control mechanisms. Full details will be set out in our childcare policy, to be launched over the coming months.

      Introduce an additional 6 weeks maternity benefit that can be taken by either parent at the end of the existing 26 weeks leave - Cost €63m

      This is a measure we want to see introduced as part of a longer-term plan to increase the maternity payment/obligation on employers to contribute more to the payment and to introduce paid parental leave. As it stands, many women in the private and/or self-employed sector cannot afford to take full maternity leave because they see their wages fall from a normal level to approximately €230 per week maternity benefit. International evidence and research shows that a child benefits most by spending the first year of life at home. Parents should be provided with that choice and parental leave policies should reflect that.

      Introduce 2 weeks paternity leave - Cost €31m

      There is currently no provision for paternity leave. Most European countries offer paid paternity leave, typically around 2 weeks in duration. Current government policy assumes that the child’s mother is the principal carer after birth. There is no consideration given to the possibility that the child’s mother may be unable to offer that care due to post-traumatic stress or other disabling factors. nor is it recognised that a father should be entitled to leave to help care for his newborn. This is a progressive policy move that will assist families both mentally and financially.

      Increase child benefit by €5 per child - Cost €72.58m

      Despite pre-election promises, Labour and Fine Gael in Government targeted Child Benefit payments, reducing this much needed monthly support by between €10 and €58 depending on the number of children. In addition to our measures to support parents Sinn Féin would increase Child Benefit by €5 for each child.

    • Tackling income inequality – total cost €289.92m

      Poverty in Ireland has deepened since 2011. nearly one in seven citizens are living in poverty and over 200,000 of these are children. As Barnardos and others have highlighted, the net result of this enforced poverty is children and their parents going without warm winter clothing, living in substandard housing and families going hungry. By targeting lone parents, people with disabilities, the elderly and the unemployed for the harshest cuts over the last four budgets, Labour and Fine Gael have increased and embedded disadvantage across Irish society. The following proposals seek to reverse some of the worst inequities Labour and Fine Gael have pursued in government.

      Increase Family Income supplement by 10% - Cost €41m

      FIS is a payment made to supplement the incomes of parents in low paid employment. Approximately 47,000 families would benefit from the measure, which would see average weekly payments increase.

      Restore the Respite Care Grant by €325 - Cost €29m

      Labour and Fine Gael’s cut to the respite care grant has caused undue hardship for almost 77,000 families, making it one of their cruellest budget cuts.

      Restore equality for Young Jobseekers - Cost €71.9m

      Over two budgets, Sinn Féin will reverse the cuts to Jobseekers Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance for the under 26s. This would entail a €40 weekly increase in Budget 2016.

      Add a telephone Allowance of €9.50 per month to the Living Alone Increase - Cost €21.65m

      This measure would allow vulnerable people living on their own to access panic alarms.

      Raise the cut-off age of the One Parent Family payment to 12 years old and increase the earnings disregard to €120 - Cost €40.4m

      These measures will better support lone parents in the home or in work, who currently have a cut off point as early as 7 years old and an earnings disregard of €90

      Introduce 4,000 Additional Community employment scheme Places - Cost €13.4m

      CE schemes based on structured, accredited training should be extended and schemes that are exploitative or displace jobs such as JobBridge and Gateway should be ended.

      Increase Investment in employability services - Cost €2.9 million

      This investment of 1,000 additional places would increase the capacity of the Employability Service to support more people with disabilities to become work ready, to find and to maintain a job in the labour force.

      Increase Back to education Allowance for under 26s to €188 - Cost €6.6m

      This cut by the Government made it more difficult for job seekers to attain educational qualifications. We would restore the figure to €188 from it’s current level of €160.

      Re-Instate solas training Allowance - Cost €6.7m

      The €20 training allowance, eliminated in Budget 2014, is a vital support towards the cost of engaging in training. Without it participation can be unaffordable for many of the nearly 4,000 trainees affected.

      Increase Fuel Allowance by 3 Weeks - Cost €23.65m

      These additional fuel allowance payments would benefit some 400,000 households, after a sustained period of energy price rises and fuel poverty increases.

      Restore the Bereavement Grant - Cost €22m

      Labour and Fine Gael’s decision in 2013 to stop the one-off bereavement grant payment was seen as one of this Government’s meanest cuts targeting vulnerable families at one of the most difficult stages of life.

      Increase funding and introduce targets for Reasonable Accommodation Fund - Cost €120,000

      The Government’s recurring underspend on a range of disability schemes and failure to even set estimates for the Reasonable Accommodation Fund are indicative of the lack of priority afforded by them to the promotion of equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We would provide for an initial increase and proactive spending so that greater numbers of people with disabilities can find or return to employment.

      Secure and Replicate the Walk PEER programme - Cost €1.1m

      The Walk PEER programme is an example of a positive pilot that was allowed to expire by this Government’s refusal to provide an extension of funding. It was a project that supported young people on disability allowance into paid positions of employment in the open labour market and further education or training in mainstream settings. We want to ensure the positive working concepts developed by Walk PEER continue and are replicated by others. We would guarantee the future of the Louth Walk PEER Programme and roll-out initially to at least two further locations.

      Restore Farm Assist - Cost €5m

      This measure reduces the assessment of means from self-employment, including farming, to 85% and reinstates the deductions from income in respect of children that were discontinued in 2013.

      Additional 500 places on the Rural social scheme - Cost €3.8m

      This measure will expand the current number of scheme places by 20%

      Increase funding for travellers Initiatives - Cost €310,000

      Increase funding to the national Disability Authority - Cost €390,000

    • Protecting communities

      1,000 extra Gardaí - Cost €21.7m

      Since Fine Gael and Labour took up office in 2011 they have depleted Garda numbers by 1,066 leaving the current strength of the force at under 13,000. In order for the force to be fit for purpose and meet the demands of community policing, the Government must increase investment in Garda personnel to bring numbers back to pre-recession levels. We have provided for the training of 1,000 gardaí in our costings, with the intent of Templemore meeting its maximum intake in 2016, and the remainder being trained in 2017.

    • Frontline workforce – cost €20m

      We are including a provision of €20 million to be ringfenced to ensure additional frontline posts in the public service sector that are urgently needed can be filled.

    • Establish an equality and budgetary advisory body – cost €1.1m

      Sinn Féin has long advocated for the introduction of ‘Equality Budgeting’ by Government. In 2013 Sinn Féin introduced legislation to provide for equality proofing of government policy and budgets and public bodies through impact assessments. This legislation would ensure that both government and public bodies, in exercising their functions do so in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of government policy outcomes. Sinn Féin wants to see the introduction of Equality Impact Assessments of Government’s expenditure and taxation policy but the department of Public Expenditure was unable to cost this proposed measure. In addition Sinn Féin believes the establishment of an independent Equality and Budgetary Advisory Body underpinned by legislation is necessary to secure equality of outcome for citizens and would be a progressive addition to the budgetary framework.

    • Lansdowne road agreement/haddington road agreement – cost €267m

      We have provided for the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) pay commitments for 2016 however we do not support the Government’s pay restoration commitments to the highest earners. Sinn Féin will table amendments to tackle excessive pay at the top and increases to politicians pay and pensions in payment when the LRA legislation comes before the dáil and Seanad.

    • Providing for demographics – cost €300m

      The expenditure side of Sinn Féin’s budget for 2016 provides €300m for demographics which the system needs just to stand still. In addition to this provision we have provided for significant additional frontline posts and resources in the areas of health, education, childcare and policing.

  • Part 2 - Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities
    • Tax measures – rebalancing the scales

      Sinn Féin is committed to rebalancing the scales to deliver a Fair Recovery. Redistribution via taxes and transfers is a powerful instrument to contribute to more equality and more growth.

      Since 2008, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have made our tax system deeply regressive through the introduction of the Property Tax and Water Charges.

      Sinn Féin wants a fair tax system, one in which all people and businesses pay their fair share. We will scrap the Family Home Tax and Water Charges, remove those on the minimum wage from the uSC net, provide relief to the self-employed and support our entrepreneurs.

      The figures below were provided to Sinn Féin by the department of Finance’s costing unit.

      Whilst it is clear the Government will meet the anticipated budget deficit target of 2.3% for 2015 it is clear that additional revenue will be available before the end of year. Government must ensure departmental overspends and critical expenditure are dealt with by supplementary estimates before the year end so that Ireland is compliant with the expenditure benchmark in 2016.

    • Easing the burden on families, workers & businesses – cost €808.5m

      Abolition of Property tax - Cost €440 million

      Abolishing the unfair property tax will act as a massive financial stimulus for stretched families, and boost the local economy by restoring some disposable spending. It will save 1.8 million home- owners an average of €244 per annum.

      End Water Charges - Cost €210.5 million

      Sinn Féin is opposed to domestic water charges. These charges will only cause further hardship for families already struggling to make ends meet and mean that households will be double-charged for water, the removal of charges costs €209 million. To ensure that group water customers would not have to pay for domestic use an additional cost of €1.5 million would also arise. The cost provided assumes 100% payment compliance therefore the cost of abolishing Irish Water would in fact be lower. However the net cost to scrapping household water charges is €80.5 million. The €130 million ringfenced for the so called Water Conservation Grant would be redundant.

      Take workers earning €19,572 or less out of the USC - Cost €93 million

      Sinn Féin will exempt income earners at or below our proposed minimum wage of €19,572 (factoring in Sinn Féin’s proposed €1 increase in the minimum wage) from the Universal Social Charge.

      Introduce tax Credits for the self employed - Cost €39 million

      This credit of €500 shall be available on earned income for the self-employed up to €80,000 and reduced by 5% per €1,000, for gross income between €80,000 and €100,000 with no entitlement to the credit on gross income in excess of €100.000.

      Increase employee & employer PRSI bands in line with Sinn Féin’s €1 per hour increase to the national Minimum Wage Cost €21.5 million

      In line with Sinn Féin’s proposed 2016 minimum wage increase by €1 to €9.65, Sinn Féin would ensure employee and employers are not penalised by increasing the Employee PRSI exemption to €377 per week and increasing the Employer PRSI rate of 8.5% up to €377.

      Making the Gaeltacht more affordable - Cost €4.5 million

      Sinn Féin would ensure affordability for working families and sustainability for the Gaeltacht regions through providing tax relief to hard pressed families. This would involve the provision of a 20% tax credit in relation to expenditure incurred by parents for children for Gaeltacht courses set at a maximum at €950 per child. With regards to children whose parents are not working, Sinn Féin would grant a deduction at source for 20% of fees, if you have a medical card.

    • Capital & property taxes - raises €141m

      Re-introduce the second home charge and increase it to €400 per annum - Raises €110 million

      Sinn Féin would re-introduce the second home charge (Non-Principle Private Residence Tax), and increase it from €200 to €400 per annum.

      Increase Capital Gains tax (CGt) on passive investments by 2% to 35%

      Sinn Féin would keep the current rate of Capital Gains tax (CGT) at 33% which applies to gains on capital assets in relation to active investments. An active business investment would be one involving an active business development.

      In line with our previous budget we would increase CGT on passive income. Passive investors will make investments with the intention of long-term appreciation and limited maintenance e.g shares on stock market. We propose to levy CGT at a higher rate of 35% on these gains. The first year income is negligible from this increase, however it would increase in the following full year.

      Increase Capital Acquisitions tax by 3% to 36% Raises €31 million

      Capital Acquisitions tax (CAT) is a tax on gifts and inheritance. We would raise the rate of CAT from 33% to 36%

    • Excise duties & levies – raises €175.8m

      Increase Betting shop tax to be applied to customers to 3% - Raises €50 million

      Increase betting shop tax to be applied to the customer to 3%.

      Duty on Liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes - Raises €8.3 million

      Sinn Féin would introduce a duty applicable to e-liquid containing nicotine above a certain percentage of volume (i.e. above 0.5%), imposing a (VAT-inclusive) duty of €0.50 per 10ml of ‘e-liquid’.

      Increase excise Duty on a packet of Cigarettes by 20c - Raises €26 million

      Thousands of people die from smoking relating illnesses each year. The cost to the health service of providing care to those with long-term illnesses caused by smoking runs into hundreds of millions. We support the calls of the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society to increase the taxation take from cigarettes and simultaneously introduce measures to reduce the tobacco industry’s profits from cigarettes. Our simultaneous measure to fund the Revenue Commissioners to increase activity to clamp down on black market activity should contribute to protecting against a rise in the illegal cigarette market.

      Introduce a 5% sugary sweetened Drinks tax - Raises €49 million

      Sinn Féin fully supports The Irish Heart Foundation in its call for the introduction of a Sugar Tax. 7% of children rising to 36% of older people are obese. unless obesity and food poverty rates are reduced it is predicted that there will be a significant impact on quality of life, life expectancy and healthcare costs in Ireland.

      The purpose in introducing a Sugary Soft drinks (SSD) tax which would increase prices by at least 5% (Sinn Féin would move to a 20% SSd tax over 4 years) is both to reduce consumption of these high sugar products and to provide funding for health and nutrition programmes.

      Bank Levy - Raises €44 million

      Sinn Féin recognise the enormous cost which has been borne by Irish society as a result of banking recklessness. In this regard, we welcomed the introduction of the Bank Levy, which is a levy in relation to each bank’s deposits. However, we think that the banking sector should be liable to larger levy and we would increase the Bank Levy from 35% to 45%.

      Abolish administration fee from VRt export Repayment scheme - Cost €1 million

      Vehicle Registration Tax is chargeable on the registration of motor vehicles (including motor-cycles) in the State. The VRT Export Repayment Scheme allows for the repayment of Vehicle Registration Tax on passenger vehicles permanently exported from the State. There is a €500 administration charge payable, which will be deducted from the amount of VRT that is repayable. Sinn Fein would abolish this as it is a punitive charge without justification.

      extension of 50% relief Alcohol Products tax - Cost €500,000

      In recognition and support of our indigenous and burgeoning Craft Beer Industry, we propose to support Irish Microbreweries through the extension of the maximum quantity of beer on which 50% on Alcohol Products is allowed for any brewery in a calendar year from 30,000 hectolitres to 35,000 hectolitres.

    • Income tax – raises €283m

      New Income Band & Rate - Raises €283 million

      Sinn Féin would increase the tax paid on the portion of individual income earned over €100,000 by 7 cent in each euro.

    • PRSI – raises €267.4m

      Employers PRSI – salary - Raises €267.4 million

      Sinn Féin would introduce a new rate of 15.75% employers PRSI on the portion of salary paid in excess of €100,000 per annum.

    • Tax evasion – raises €25m

      As part of its Comprehensive Review of expenditure, the Revenue Commissioners identified how tax take could be increased through hiring 125 qualified revenue staff, to bring in an additional €25 million per annum by targeting tax evasion and black market activity.

    • Pensions – raises €217m

      Ceiling cap and standardising the rate

      The current ‘earnings cap’ recognises €115,000 per annum (whatever your salary is) as the maximum salary against which percentages are calculated for pension tax reliefs. We would reduce the earnings cap for pension contributions to €60,000 per annum, which would raise €135 million . We would standardise the relief at which tax back can be claimed. Beginning with a reduction to 35% in 2016. This raises €82 million

    • Encouraging entrepreneurs - costs €5 million

      Sinn Féin are in agreement with the Irish Tax Institute that this Start up Relief for Entrepreneurs (SURE) has not been effective to date due to its exclusion of individual whose sole income is self- employed earnings from the scheme. We believe that all tax payers should be able to avail of the scheme.

    • Reigning in high pay and excessive public spending

      Reduce Oireachtas pay (€75,000 tDs, €60,000 Senators) and allowances including the Taoiseach and Ministers (by 50% on portion of salary over €75,000) - saves €5.59m

      Time and time again Fine Gael and Labour have chosen to punish our most vulnerable citizens and hard pressed working families. In contrast, and despite four previous opportunities to do so, the Fine Gael-Labour Government has chosen not to use the full potential of the budget to reign in the spending of public monies on politicians and senior management pay or departmental spends on private consultancy fees.

      Reduce oireachtas Pay and Allowances

      Any further expenditure reductions for 2016 must start with elected representatives’ own pay and allowances. Fat remains, therefore reductions can still be made.

      In Budget 2016 we would:

      Reduce by 50% the portion of pay to the Taoiseach, ministers and ministers of State that is over and above their basic TD salary.

      Reduce TDs pay to €75,000 and Senators pay to €60,000.

      In addition to these pay reductions, we would:

      Cap Government Special Advisors pay, withdraw the Super Junior Ministers allowance, Oireachtas Officeholders allowances, and Oireachtas committee Chair allowances.

      Combined, these proposals would reduce Oireachtas expenditure by €5.59m

      Reduce excess Pay and Pensions at Management Level in the Public sector - saves €15.28m

      Pay at the top of our civil and public service still remains high compared to European standards. All the while, nurses, Gardaí, fire brigade members, teachers and other frontline public workers have seen their income fall sharply. Sinn Féin in government will pursue a full fairness review of all public sector pay, and bring high pay into line with other European countries.

      Reduce pay for top earners with a 15% reduction on income earned between €100,000 and €150,000 and 30% on income over €150,000. We would also reduce the CEO salaries in commercial, non-commercial semi-state bodies, local authorities and the Education and Training Boards by 10%.

      Reduce general government expenditure saves €21.45m

      Reduce departmental spending on professional fees and consultants, travel and subsistence by 10%, and economise civil service education and training by securing a 10% discount on third level education and other training expenditure.

      Public expenditure - saves €186.6m

      As part of the abolition of water charges withdraw the Water Conservation Grant. saves €130m.

      Sinn Féin would withdraw the private school subsidy over 5 years. saves €20.6m.

      Reduce the state’s drugs bill for branded medicines by a further 2%, in addition to reductions previously implemented. saves €36m.

      Regulation of the Financial sector - saves €70m

      At present the Irish public, with certain exceptions, subsidise 50% of the cost of the Central Bank’s regulating of certain financial service providers. Sinn Féin would take this charge from the Irish public and move the entire cost of regulation of the financial sector onto the industry.

      Wind-Down JobBridge scheme - saves €7.9m

      While some individuals have had a positive experience, overall the JobBridge scheme displaces existing paid work, defers real job creation, depresses wages and exacerbates underemployment. Sinn Féin believes that the JobBridge scheme is beyond repair. We would close the JobBridge scheme to new applicants, meaning that it would become obsolete during the course of 2016.

      Cancel Gateway scheme - saves €5.6m

      Participation on Gateway is not voluntary and it does not involve meaningful accredited training. Sinn Féin opposed the introduction of the Gateway scheme during 2014. We would cancel the Gateway scheme from Budget 2016.

      Greater Use of JobsPlus - saves €28.7m

      This scheme involves real jobs with real pay, terms and conditions. Employers receive a subsidy from the state when they recruit an employee off the live register who is long and longer-term unemployed. We would reassign the department staff, efforts and other resources currently focused on JobBridge to the promotion of JobsPlus with the aim of placing an additional 5,000 in employment via the scheme. The average full year saving from placing 5,000 jobseekers in employment via the JobsPlus scheme is €28.7m.

    • Low pay and the living wage

      Increase the Minimum Wage

      Sinn Féin are committed to equality and a Fair Recovery through raising the minimum wage of €8.65 by €1 in 2016.

      “By not addressing inequality, governments are cutting into the social fabric of their countries and hurting their long-term economic growth.” OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría

      The fostering of better jobs for a larger proportion of the workforce will be key to reducing inequality, the OECD said, “Many nonstandard workers are worse off in many aspects of job quality, such as earnings, job security or access to training,” the OECd said. “In particular low-skilled temporary workers face substantial wage penalties, earnings instability and slower wage growth.”

      The most comprehensive meta-studies (study of studies) on the minimum wage suggest that the effect on the employment rate of a change in the national minimum wage is likely to be small or non-existent.

      Universal social Charge exemption - Cost €93m

      Sinn Féin will exempt income earners at or below the increased minimum wage of €19,572 (factoring in a €1 increase in the minimum wage in 2016) from the universal Social Charge.

      Increase employee and employer PRSI bands in tandem with minimum wage increase of €1 for 2016 Cost €21.5m

      In line with Sinn Féin’s proposed 2016 minimum wage increase by €1 to €9.65, Sinn Féin would ensure employee and employers are not penalised by increasing the Employee PRSI exemption to €376 per week and increasing the Employer PRSI rate of 8.5% up to €376.

      Introduce a Living Wage across the Civil service Cost €1.5m

      Ireland has one of the highest rates of low pay in the developed world, and this is one of the key factors behind the latest wave of mass emigration of the under 35s since 2011. Sinn Féin is committed to the introduction of a living wage as a key measure to stem the tide of low paid work, and we believe as the largest employer in the state the government must lead the way. We would introduce a living wage of €11.45 across the civil service.

  • Part 3 - To Pursue The Happiness And Prosperity Of The Whole Nation
    • Supporting and encouraging business

      Sinn Féin recognises that the number one priority to our economic well being must be the creation of decent jobs with decent pay with a real commitment to our SME sector. 70% of people employed in the private sector work for SMEs, and these businesses are the engine of our economy.

      Providing relief to our self employed, encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting our retailers, fostering the Craft Beer industry, easing the administration of taxation, opening up public procurement and advocating a new system to getting credit flowing to SMEs are ways are ways in which we would foster business in Ireland.

      Relief to the self employed - Cost €39m

      Sinn Féin recognises the contribution that the self- employed, from entrepreneurs to carpenters to farmers, make to our economy and are conscious that the current taxation system discriminates against them in comparison to PAYE workers. We wish to alleviate some of their tax burden through a tax credit on earned income similar to that available to PAYE workers of €500.

      The credit shall be available on earned income for the self-employed up to €80,000 and reduced by 5% per €1,000, for gross income between €80,000 and €100,000 with no entitlement to the credit on gross income in excess of €100.000.

      encouraging entrepreneurship - Cost €5m

      The Start Up Relief for Entrepreneurs (SURE) currently in place, aims to incentivise individuals currently or recently in employment to start and invest in their own business. SuRE enables such individuals to claim income tax relief on investments in their business which Sinn Féin would would limit to €15,000.

      The relief is limited to the amount of income tax the individual has paid through PAYE over the previous 6 years. The individual must control at least 30% of the new trading company and must take up employment with that company.

      However, this relief has not been effective to date due to its exclusion of the self-employed who have no PAYE income from the scheme. The requirement that the individual must have paid PAYE is limiting this relief for a whole group of entrepreneurs. We believe that all tax payers should be able to avail of the scheme.

      Double current trading online Voucher scheme for 2016 - Cost €2.73m

      Retail is one of the forgotten sectors of the economy, although it has probably suffered the most outside of construction in recent years. Of increasing concern for the sector is the radical reorientation of people’s spending patterns from the shop to online purchasing with a massive 75% of this business is going abroad. Government figures show online is expected to reach €21bn by 2017, yet 75% of these sales are going outside of the state. We will double the current trading on line voucher scheme.

      Ease the Administration of the tax system for Business

      Sinn Féin are cognisant of a number of difficulties entrepreneurs and SMEs face in relation to the administration of the tax system and would take the following action:

      Delays in VAT registration: Feedback from a recent survey conducted by the Irish Tax Institute indicated that over a fifth of VAT registrations are taking more than four weeks to be processed. In many cases, the turnaround time on these registrations is in excess of 2 to 3 months. These delays are impacting businesses and preventing economic activity and the creation of jobs from taking place. Sinn Féin would ensure that sufficient resources are provided to Revenue resolve the VAT registration process.

      As part of their simplified filing arrangements, Revenue allows small companies to pay their VAT and PAYE/PRSI liabilities on a less frequent basis. We would like to see a similar arrangement extended to small businesses for corporation tax and income tax so that they do not pay a large tax bill in one lump sum. We agree with the Irish Tax Institute that it would be useful to allow businesses to pay tax “on account” during the year. This would be of particular use to for example, businesses in the service sector with seasonal cash-flow.

      Extend the 50% relief for indigenous Craft Beer to 35,000 hectolitres Cost €500,000

      In recognition and support of our indigenous and burgeoning Craft Beer Industry, we propose to support Irish Microbreweries through the extension of the maximum quantity of beer on which 50% on Alcohol Products is allowed for any brewery in a calendar year from 30,000 hectolitres to 35,000 hectolitres.

      Improve Access to Public Procurement Contracts for SMEs

      Sinn Féin has long argued that public procurement acts as a critical stimulus for the domestic economy and is an important driver of Ireland’s recovery both in terms of employment and employment standards across the economy. Sinn Féin seeks a system of procurement that brings real value to the citizen and society. Government has to be more ambitious for the economic and social return of the €12bn annual public spend on goods, services and capital projects.

      The Office of Government Procurement to put in place robust predatory pricing safeguards at the mini-competition

      Clearly define a micro, small and medium size organisation and collect and disseminate procurement data that pertains accurately to each category

      Set up key performance indicators for micro, small and medium size enterprise participation for all public procurers and a monitoring mechanism ensuring these performance indicators are met

      Reduce the size of tenders to make them accessible to the relevant enterprise size

      Review the current centralised tendering model to provide an alternative approach that better marries cost benefits with wider regional economic and social policy objectives

      Extend categorising of suppliers by number of employees, and also a ‘subsidiary’ classification for companies who are Irish subsidiaries of multinational companies

    • A strong island economy

      This document sets out a narrative surrounding the budget and economy in the 26 Counties. However, each year Sinn Fein makes the point that cooperation on and harmonisation of certain measures north and south would be beneficial for all people on the island and both economies.

      A united Ireland would make even more sense as we move forward, economically and socially. 6.4 million people live on this island, yet we have two separate tax regimes, two currencies and legal systems, two public service systems and two separate competing economies.

      Sinn Fein wants to advance a single island economy that delivers a fair and harmonised progressive taxation regime, regulation and trade. We want to provide the tools to create greater opportunities for growth, harmonise workers’ rights and develop a better business climate for advancement of entrepreneurial spirit north and south.

      Different economic structures north and south have undermined economic growth and labour market mobility. Companies are on record stating that the differences in currency have a sizeable impact on profit margins to the extent that they have been discouraged from having operations on both parts of the island. Cross-border movement in Ireland north and south has been impeded by different levels of vehicle registration tax; differences in direct and indirect tax rates; eligibility for tax credits; differences in tax years; housing costs, affecting employers and employees alike.

      Despite the interconnection and interdependence of the economies north and south, there has been a limited focus placed on promoting island wide growth and recovery. Island wide trade has yet to reach its full potential. Inter Trade Ireland does a sterling job, but receives limited funding support and its budget is continuously under attack. Some businesses have taken the lead in cross border trading and investment over the last couple of years despite the impediments caused by cross border credit card transaction fees; telecommunication cross-border charges; and dual tax and pay roll systems.

      There is no doubt that a planned and agreed approach to economic development across the island of Ireland would deliver greater:

      • Export trade and inward investment;
      • economic and jobs growth and improved workforce skills;
      • productivity and innovation
      • All Ireland trade and reduce costs and research and development

      Island wide trade currently generates £3bn for the island. Removing barriers to it makes sense. The north cannot exist in isolation from the rest of the country and the rest of the country cannot reach its full potential without the north.

      Co-operation between the administrations is not new. Both governments have worked together on a range of projects for economic, social and environmental benefit. This has happened for example through the creation of the Single Electricity Market, joint investment in the City of Derry Airport, and by significant road and rail investment on routes linking dublin to Belfast and Project Kelvin and electricity grid strengthening proposals. Other ongoing co-operation themes include agriculture and plant and animal health policy and research, education, environmental protection and waste management, in a cross border context. There is also joint working on animal and plant disease prevention and contingency planning, accident and emergency planning, health promotion and cooperation, energy matters, transport planning, road and rail infrastructure, and public transport services and road safety. These and other projects are advanced both through the north South Ministerial Council and through other contacts between departments and Agencies, in both jurisdictions for example the north West Gateway Initiative.

      Councils from both jurisdictions are working with ILEX, the urban regeneration company in the north West. Local authorities in the newry and dundalk have come together to deliver the Twin City Region project and have developed and signed Memorandum of Understanding to the benefit of both communities. The Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN), a network of Councillor’s, is also working together to respond to unique economic and social needs of the central border region. Co-operation is not enough. Integration, joint planning and delivery is the way forward. Integration provides opportunities to boost economic performance. More can be achieved through this than through competition. Both jurisdictions on the island struggle to find efficiencies in the delivery of public services yet we have back to back provision. north and south we have disconnected policies and practice. Yet where joint island wide enterprise has been applied it has improved service delivery. Integrated island wide co-operation within public services makes economic sense.

      Health provides examples of where a better service can be developed by an all-Ireland approach. The joint cancer centre in derry will provide services for patients from throughout the north-west. no longer will patients from donegal or derry have to travel to Belfast or dublin for treatments. There are opportunities within a new integrated island wide structure to reconfigure how we deliver health services across this island. The total money spent per person within the current regressive health system in the south is more than is spent per person in the north of Ireland or in Britain.

      With vision, commitment and determination we could deliver better services to all the people of Ireland north and south.

    • Irish language and supporting the gaeltacht – total cost €5.95m

      Increase Udarás na Gaeltachta capital fund grant - Cost €5m

      Fianna Fáil gutted the fund to create employment in Gaeltacht areas and the current Government has continued that trend. Sinn Féín will begin to redress the deficit in this year’s budget by making an extra €5m available. This can be targeted to create new jobs in Gaeltacht communities throughout the country.

      Increase funding for Irish language community schemes - Cost €750,000

      Sinn Féin will make an extra €750,000 available specifically to support community base projects to promote the Irish language. This is essential to maintain Irish as a vibrant, community language and goes some way to counteract the cutbacks and lack of support given by this government during their tenure.

      Increase outreach assistance for parents in Gaeltacht areas - Cost €200,000

      One of the most important areas of successful language transmission is in the home. Sinn Féin will make an extra €200,000 available to assist families in Gaeltacht areas who are encouraging their children to use and improve their Irish.

      Making the Gaeltacht more affordable

      Sinn Féin would ensure affordability for working families and sustainability for the Gaeltacht regions through providing tax relief to hard pressed families. This would involve the provision of a 20% tax credit in relation to expenditure incurred by parents for children for Gaeltacht courses set at a maximum at €950 per child. With regards to children whose parents are not working, Sinn Féin would grant a deduction at source for 20% of fees, if you have a medical card.

    • Measures the department were unable to cost

      The revenue that would be raised by introducing a wealth tax of 1% on net assets over €1m with exclusions

      The revenue that would be raised by abolishing CGT exemptions when a home is sold for over €1m

      The revenue that would be raised by increasing by 1/2/3/4/5/10/15/20% respectively the taxes on exploration/drilling for oil and gas

      Reduce Standard Fund Threshold for high earners from €2m to €1.7m

      Introducing Equality Impact Assessments of expenditure and taxation across all departments

      Implementation of a Living Wage of €11.45 across the public sector including non- commercial and commercial state bodies

      Reopening of Garda Stations

View and Share Sinn Féin's Budget 2016 in PDF Booklet format below

Download a PDF of Sinn Féin Budget 2016 here

Latest News