​ Civil Engagement Group call for equality, transparency and sustainability in Budget 2018.

The Civil Engagement Group: Senators Frances Black, Colette Kelleher, John Dolan, Grace O'Sullivan, Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane
The Civil Engagement Group: Senators Frances Black, Colette Kelleher, John Dolan, Grace O'Sullivan, Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane

The Civil Engagement Group in the Seanad is calling on the Government to deliver equality, transparency and sustainable development in Budget 2018. The group have highlighted five principles which they say should underpin the budgetary decision-making. 

1. Budget 2018 must deliver joined-up thinking for sustainable development. 

2. Budget 2018 must prioritise investment in public services and social infrastructure 

3. Budget 2018 must address social, economic and gender inequality 

4. Budget 2018 must be clear and transparent around taxation 

5. Budget 2018 must meet international standards and commitments.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, leader of the Civil Engagement Group (CEG) said, “The government must remember that it responsible not simply for ‘opportunities’ but for 'outcomes’. The serious challenges Ireland faces in areas like housing, healthcare, or environment can only be addressed through joined-up thinking and a collective rather than an individualised approach. We are also calling on the Government to fulfil their commitment to equality and gender proof this Budget so as to make sure it works for everyone in society. How, for example, might this budget help lone parents or those who are carers.”

Senator Lynn Ruane said, “We are calling on the Government to listen to the people of Ireland and to invest in social services and infrastructure after years of austerity cuts. Budget 2018 must demonstrate a commitment to public housing, health, education at all levels, homecare, childcare and community development – which have been pushed to breaking point through lack of investment.” 

Senator Grace O’Sullivan said, “In light of the critical need for greater investment in public services and social infrastructure, we simply can’t afford to focus on tax cuts – we need to prioritise those shared services and supports that provide a decent standard of living for everyone in Ireland.”
Senator John Dolan said “Budget 2018 decisions have implications for the 643,000 disabled people and their families. Will those decisions move them away from poverty and exclusion and towards full inclusion in the economic and social life of Ireland?”

Senator Frances Black said, “Since 2014, demand for mental health services has gone up almost 30%. However, as of July 2017, almost 2500 children and young people are still on waiting lists, unable to get the help they need. Many have been waiting for over a year. This is just one example of the urgent need to invest in better public services - it must be a priority for the Government.”

Senator Higgins added, “Given the hard choices being made, it is important that any money spent on tax reliefs or incentives is also subject to rigorous analysis. How much do they cost the exchequer? who benefits? We know that badly thought through schemes in the past have had negative consequences. The Capital Gains Tax waiver from 2012-2014, for example, contributed to the current housing crisis.”

Senator Colette Kelleher said, “Budget 2018 must provide the most to people on the margins. The level of inclusion achieved should be the true test of the budget’s success. I’m hoping to see real investment in supports and services for people with dementia and their carers, urgent action on housing including for Traveller families and better community based mental health and disability supports.”

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