The shadow of Brexit cannot hide this Government's abysmal budget - Nolan
Independent Offaly TD Carol Nolan has described Budget 2020 as "a series of missed opportunities that will do next to nothing to address some of the major issues facing communities and households."
Deputy Nolan was speaking after the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, outlined what he called a ‘Budget without precedent’ that had to be delivered in the context of Brexit.
“There will be hundreds of thousands of families today who will be either be worse off or no better off following this Budget," Deputy Nolan said.
"By failing to make the kind of ambitious leap that was required with respect to carers, the Minister has essentially done nothing to address the crisis despite his commitment to deliver an additional one million home help hours.
"We know that it would have taken approximately 2.5 million additional hours just to clear the backlog in terms of waiting times.
"It is almost incomprehensible that the Minister made no mention whatsoever of the Fair Deal Scheme or the need to urgently prioritise and deliver the promised reforms in that area. This demonstrates worrying political blindness to the scale of the problems facing the scheme.
"With respect to schools, I can only imagine how angry and frustrated Principals and teachers will be today following the total lack of commitment to restore the Capitation Grant to €200 or address teacher/pupil ratios.
"This means that organisations like The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) will continue to see about 40% of their requests for practical assistance being related to school costs for parents trying to make up the shortfall in school funding.
"I do want to acknowledge the €1 million funding provided to farmers affected by Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Area (SPA). However, given that there are at least 493 such areas and given the impact that the Carbon Tax increases will make, it is still not sufficient and more needs to be done here.
Continuing her criticism, Deputy Nolan said: "In terms of the package for the Midlands and the proposal for a so-called Just Transition Commissioner; that is something we need to see immediate detail on.
"I have continually called on both the Minister for Communications and the Minister for Business to give this issue the kind of sustained and practical focus it deserves and to engage in more sustained and coordinated planning with respect to the just transition policy.
"We have seen the potentially devastating impact that a failure to do this can bring about in terms of the threat to Bord na Mona.
"As the detail of the Budget works itself out over the course of the next few days, I believe it will become clear that this was a Budget sorely lacking in a determination to place policy fairness at its core.
"Where for example was the sense of urgency around the housing emergency? Nowhere to be seen in practical terms.
"That is a matter of deep regret given the scale of the challenges that some of our most vulnerable people are facing,” concluded Deputy Nolan.