Latest Laois News: Local Minister claims Budget is Fair and Progressive
Minister Hackett Says Budget 2022 is Fair and Progressive
The increase in fuel allowance, reduction in travel fares for young people, and free contraception – as well as extra supports in her own areas of Agriculture – have been highlighted by Minister Pippa Hackett, who described Budget 2022 as fair and progressive.
“Looking at the budget overall, I believe the freeze on childcare costs, along with childcare workers seeing an improvement in their pay is really significant. My Green Party colleague, Minister Roderic O’Gorman, has introduced an excellent scheme which will benefit both young families and childcare workers” she says.
Minister Hackett also hailed half-price travel for young people as a progressive measure.
“Many young people in the Midlands have to travel for work, training or college and this will enable them to move about more easily”, she said. “With an investment of €35bn to 2030, public transport is improving all the time and this will encourage young people get into the habit of using the service. They may then find they don’t need the expense of a car, which will ultimately reduce our carbon emissions.”
The Minister also highlighted the provision of free contraception for women aged 17-25. “The Green Party has been pushing for this measure so I’m glad to see it coming through. It supports women in making choices about when to start a family and will be particularly helpful to those on lower incomes,” she said.
The increase in fuel allowances and the deferral of the carbon tax increase on home heating fuel until May 2022 were also described by the Minister as important budgetary measures.
“We have to tackle fuel poverty and these two measures will ease the pressure this winter, while we proceed with the retrofitting programme,” she says.
During his budget speech, Finance Minister Paschal Donohue, described how carbon taxes would be invested in socially progressive measures.
“New monies raised in this change will be invested in targeted social welfare initiatives to prevent fuel poverty and ensure a just transition. It is why the additional revenue from carbon tax will be used to invest in a socially progressive national retrofitting programme,” he said.
€202 million in carbon tax revenue will fund the SEAI residential and community retrofit schemes and a further €85m is being allocated to the retrofitting of local authority houses in 2022. Minister Hackett pointed out that retrofitting of local authority homes in Laois-Offaly is well underway and will protect low-income homes when the carbon tax on home heating fuels takes actual effect this time next year. Laois and Offaly are among the eight Midlands counties which got a head-start on retrofitting and have already been allocated €3.8m each for the purpose.
“Furthermore, 2,000 private homes nationwide recently received SEAI grants to retrofit their homes, and apprentices are being upskilled at Laois-Offaly ETB to accelerate the retrofitting programme – creating good, sustainable jobs in the Midlands.”
The Minister concluded with a comment on her own areas of responsibility within Agriculture:
“While the very generous allocations for forestry, organic farming, and horticulture impact chiefly on the farmers in those sectors, I think it is really important to note that this is a budget which supports a system of farming which has nature at its core. This is a shift which we must make for the sake of our children, our climate and our land, and it is one which will ultimately I believe, be of huge benefit to our farm families too.”