Sinn Féin launch their 2024 Alternative Budget05 October 2023 - by Gráinne Walsh
Over a month from their Ard Fhéis in Athlone and a week ahead of the Irish Budget, Sinn Féin released their Alternative Budget proposals for 2024 on Wednesday this week. With a budget focused on housing, health and the climate, the underlying message is invest in the future now. Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said that the budget outlines “the type of change that a Sinn Féin government would deliver.” The €6.8 billion, primarily left of centre budget seems to have something for everyone – central to retaining the party’s lead in the polls.
Housing is Sinn Féin’s number one priority. This includes:
- the delivery of 21,000 social and affordable homes to rent and buy,
- additional resources for the planning system.
- giving back one month of rent to renters.
- banning any rent increases for three years.
- increasing allowances for apprentices.
Cost of Living
This takes the form of a €1.35 billion package. This includes:
- scrapping the planned increase in carbon tax.
- cutting household electricity bills and lump sum payments to working families, carers, those living with disabilities and those living alone.
- minimum wage increased by €1.50.
- cutting income tax.
- abolishing student fees.
- increase the monthly rate of Child Benefit by €10.
This is a multi-year plan to fix the health service and deliver an Irish National Health Service. This includes:
- reducing the cost of medicines
- abolishing prescription charges
- adding 1,800 hospital beds
- investing in local community healthcare
- €75 million investment in mental health services in 2024
- a range of strategies including cancer, women’s health and cardiovascular health
- increased training places for the health workforce.
Policies are focused on targeting the wealthy who Sinn Féin say are the biggest contributors of emissions. Policies include:
- replacing the national retrofit programme with new schemes and free retrofits to the poorest households.
- investing in renewable energy.
- protecting and enhancing biodiversity by expanding green spaces and national parks.
- making the 20% reduction in public transport fares permanent.
- pollution tax on private jets.
- introducing a dedicated fund for heat pumps.
- Garda recruitment drive – fund 1,000 new recruits and double training allowances
- invest in youth justice interventions and restorative justice and in the wider justice system.
- cut childcare fees by 10% from 1 January and the rest from 1 September. A total cut of 2/3s since 2022.
- funding recommendations of the Disability Capacity Review.
- increasing disability related benefits.
- doubling funding for housing adaptation grants.
- investing in lifelong inclusion and creating more caring spaces and packages.
Planning for Irish Unity:
- Irish Government should be preparing a “White Paper for Irish Unity.”
- establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to plan for Irish Unity
- increasing investment in cross-border bodies Foras na Gaeilge and Tourism Ireland.