Budget 2018 could have been more ambitious and braver
While Budget 2018 has provided some small gains for families, such as funding for frontline health services and investment in housing supports, it fails to provide real solutions for the major challenges facing children today. The Government has not delivered on promises of a new era of politics. Budget 2018 lacks vision and ambition. In an effort to appease everyone it fails to create genuine opportunities or build solid foundations for children to thrive.
Fergus Finlay, Barnardos CEO said: “The additional staff for frontline health services, the increased investment in the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), and additional support for TUSLA are welcome investments that will have some positive impact on families, but ultimately the Government missed its opportunity to show its commitment to children. The Taoiseach entered his post promising to create a culture of aspiration, a republic of opportunity, to support every child to be the best they can be, but his Government has failed to follow through with action in Budget 2018.
“The meagre increase of €2 in the Qualified Child Increase will do little to address child poverty – it won’t even cover the cost of a loaf of bread and litre of milk. Funds would have been better spent committed to a substantial increase in the QCI rate for over 12’s recognising the increased cost of raising a teenager.
“However, of the measures announced Barnardos welcomes the recruitment of 1,800 additional frontline staff in the health service, we hope that this translates into a tangible reduction in waiting times for children trying to access essential services.
“Barnardos also welcomes the increase in the rate of HAP –however increasing funding will not provide a stand-alone solution. Accessing rental properties that will accept HAP remains a key barrier for families. Additional funding for social housing is also welcome but the turn-around time must be faster - delivery must be prioritised for 2018 to ensure 3,000 children are supported out of homelessness.
“The increase in TUSLA’s budget is also a welcome development, but resources must be ring-fenced for preventative work.
“Although small, the investment in early childhood care and education services indicates a commitment to improving standards and quality in the sector which is welcome, but we’re still a long way off the targeted ECCE spend of 1% GDP."
June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy said: “Budget 2018 is more of the same - another short-sighted budget which focusses on small short-term gains instead of a long-term investment in the future. The reductions in the rates of USC and increases in the standard rate tax band amount to a miniscule increase in take home pay for workers - roughly €4 per week, at a cost of over €330million to the state. These funds would be far better invested in services and could ensure truly free primary school, clear waiting lists ensuring rapid accesses to health services and significantly increase investment in early years care and education giving all children the best possible start in life.“