Joe Cunningham said:

“The Government risks repeating the same mistakes made prior to the crash. Through tax cuts, it is hollowing out our revenue base just as we are facing the challenges of slowing growth, climate action and technological disruption from automation and AI. This is in addition to our current infrastructural deficits such as housing.

“These tax cuts are being funded by squeezing public services. By 2026, spending on public services for every man, woman and child is projected by the Government to be cut in real terms. This is despite the challenges of our ageing demographics and rising population. Rather than cutting public service expenditure, we need to increase spending.

“All this is coming at a time of reduced growth. The Government projects that growth will slow to 2% each year out to 2030. This will make it difficult to fund public services and social protection through growth. There will be increased competition over a smaller level of resources.  

“While our members welcome the increase in the minimum wage and the introduction of a pay-related unemployment benefit, the inadequate rise in pensions and social protection rates will do little to reduce the high levels of deprivation and poverty among those on fixed incomes. They will continue to suffer real cuts in real living standards. 

“SIPTU welcomes the reduction in childcare costs and the expansion of the free textbook scheme to secondary level. These are the type of measures that can reduce living costs and bring significant relief to households with children. However, given the tax cuts and slowing economic growth, the Government will find it difficult to continue on this progressive path unless it changes its tax-cutting policies.”

“SIPTU further welcomes the establishment of an investment fund with special focus on climate change. However, we remain concerned that housing targets are not enough to meet demand. This will call for a government re-think on how we can construct more social and public housing given that the sector is at capacity and how we can make them affordable for working families.”