Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Budget 2022: Statements (Resumed)
John Cummins (Fine Gael)
I welcome yesterday's budget, which shows significant promise. It is a budget that has to be viewed in the round and we cannot look at any one individual measure and say that, in and of itself, it is significant. However, when we look at all of the measures together, it does add up to a very significant package. We are making modest tax and welfare changes to support those who are working, those who cannot work and those who have finished their working life. We have an additional 800 gardaí and 400 civilian staff to make our streets safer, additional support for remote working and support for carers, who provide a vital service. There are more supports for businesses, especially the retention and extension of the employment wage subsidy scheme, as well as more supports for primary, secondary and further education, including the extension of maintenance grants and the clothing and footwear allowance. There is more support for families in terms of childcare and it is an area in which other speakers have said we need to do more. We are also supporting young people in terms of contraceptives and half-price travel, which is a very welcome move. We have increased investment in health. It is a very significant package of supports across the board.
I have to give a wry smile when I hear representatives from Sinn Féin in particular talking about their fully costed alternative. If we look at the housing section, they promise in their alternative budget to deliver 20,000 public homes at a cost of €3 billion. That is €150,000 per house, despite their housing spokesperson having received a response to a parliamentary question from the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage stating that the average cost of providing a social home in Ireland is €240,000. A primary school child could tell us that if we multiply that, it is €4.8 billion. Where is the black hole of €1.8 billion in the Sinn Féin alternative budget, which they claim is fully costed? A primary school child could tell us it does not add up. It does not even contain support in terms of help-to-buy for first-time buyers to get their foot on the ladder, which is critical and has rightly been extended by this Government. I look forward to hearing representatives from the main Opposition party explaining where the money is.