Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has criticised the Government for bringing forward yet another Budget that fails to deal with two of the greatest crises facing Irish workers and families, those of health and housing.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday evening during the Budget debate, Teachta Crowe said:

“We know that health and housing have been the dominant issues in the past two Dáileanna and I would argue they have been the dominant issues over all of the Dáileanna when I have been a Deputy. I would also argue that budget 2023 fails to deal with either of them and just tinkers around the edges.

“The big solution for renters in this week’s budget is a €500 annual tax credit. Again, it is welcome and better than nothing, but it is a sticking plaster approach and the problem is just getting worse. In the last Daft report, a three-bed house in Dublin 24 that a family might hope to live in was €1,971. This credit is potentially only worth a week’s rent to them. If rents go up another 12%, for a family moving into a house down the road next year, fully half of that €500 credit is wiped out in the increase.

“A tax credit with no control on rents is simply throwing good money down the drain. It will help workers and families in the short term, but will still leave them vulnerable to the long-term spiralling of rents and does nothing for security of tenure. Some suggest it may even fuel inflation in rents. I ask the Tánaiste if one person’s tax credit is another person’s tax income.

“Sinn Féin would have put a month’s rent back into every renter’s pocket and banned rent hikes for the next three years. Renters deserve real action and real relief, not one-off measures that potentially do more harm than good. We must address the root causes of the problems if we are to be fiscally prudent and not simply populist parties, trying to buy the electorate with tax credits and income tax that narrow our tax base further and tie our fate to that of a small number of multinational companies.

“This Budget is yet another example of how the Government has no real plan to address the fundamental problems facing our health service. There will not be one more acute bed in our capacity after this budget. We consistently hear big numbers being thrown around about the health service.

“Every year, we are told that that year’s is the biggest budget ever. We have a growing and ageing population. As such, we will spend more on our health service each year just to stand still. The Minister announced that hundreds of thousands of people would have GP care. That is welcome, but it was put forward as if it were some sort of magic wand. Hundreds of thousands of people have no access to a GP because this Government has allowed the retention and recruitment problem in our health service to become a crisis. There has been no mention of additional trainee places for nurses, doctors, radiologists and other key professions where gaps need to be filled. People cannot access the most basic elements of healthcare, namely, GPs, dentists and scans.

“Even if someone can get on a GP’s, dentist’s or consultant’s books, it can take weeks, months or years to get an appointment, depending on which the person is trying to see.

“I am tired of these grand ideas when there is not a shred of a plan to implement them. Last year, the Minister announced that there would be 10,000 more staff in our health service. That was welcome, but we have recruited fewer than half of that number. This Government is great at telling people what they want to hear when it does not have the slightest intention of seeing it through.

“The Government’s commitment to retrofitting has been lacklustre. The current scheme ignores the oldest, coldest and poorest homes and prioritises those with the greatest means rather than the greatest need.

“According to the response to a recent parliamentary question asked of the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan, it would take up to ten months just to get a home surveyed for a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, free energy upgrade. The whole process would take more than two years. We must introduce tiered supports, with deep retrofits for low- and middle-income homes funded by between 65% and 100%, depending on income. This would make retrofits a realistic option for those who remain locked out of the Government’s schemes. It is all well and good for the Government to say that it will match people’s investment if they happen to have €10,000 lying around, but that is far from the reality for most of those households that I deal with every day.

“A deep retrofit of the family home is the single greatest way for many families to reduce their carbon output. If the programme is to have meaningful results, we should support those with needs rather than those with means.”