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Income levy grossly unfair to low earners warns charity

Resource type: News

Irish Times |

by CARL O’BRIEN PEOPLE ON low incomes will be hit hardest by the introduction of an 1 per cent income levy in the Budget, a number of lobby groups for the disadvantaged warned yesterday. The Society of St Vincent de Paul said the levy was indiscriminate and unfair on the working poor. “People who are moving from welfare to work, on low incomes or on the minimum wage are expected to shoulder a major burden and that is grossly unfair,” said Prof John Monaghan of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. “We had anticipated that any measure like this would be targeted at the well-off who would be the best able to afford this kind of measure.” Barnardos, the children’s charity, also said that working families on low incomes would end up paying the highest price for an economic situation which was not of their making. “This levy on all earned income under EUR100,000 will reduce the income available to those working in low-paid jobs. The outlook is grim for these families who are already identified as being at risk of consistent poverty,” said Norah Gibbons, Barnardos’ director of advocacy. The Children’s Rights Alliance, a coalition that comprises more than 80 non-governmental agencies, said that the levy, as well as cuts to child benefit, would topple many families below the poverty line. “Over 230,000 children are at risk of poverty in freland, almost one in four today’s Budget is set to increase this figure,” said the alliance’s chief executive, Jillian van Turnhout. On the issue of people with disabilities, a number of groups expressed concern that funds for developing new services will be cut. Inclusion Ireland, which represents people with intellectual disabilities, said that an increase of 2.5 per cent in the health budget would just about cover increases from this year to last. The group’s chief executive, Deirdre Carroll, said: “There is tremendous fear among people with an intellectual disability and their families that there will be cuts within the health budget that will further cut back what little services they have.” Amnesty International also said that there was no sign of the promised EUR25 million, which was needed to implement the Government’s blueprint for mental health services, outlined in A Vision for Change. In the area of homelessness, the Simon Communities of Ireland warned that a levy of EUR200 imposed on non-principal private residences will most likely be passed onto tenants in private rented accommodation. Threshold, the tenants’ rights group, said that there was currently an affordability crisis in the private rented sector for people on low incomes which would be exacerbated by the levy. “Landlords under pressure to meet mortgage payments are seeking rent increases or higherpaying tenants,” said the organisation’s chairwoman, Aideen Hayden. “At the same time, tenants on low incomes are struggling because of reduced employment opportunities, rising living costs and increased competition for affordable rented accommodation,” Ms Hayden said.