Jim Daly TD has raised the issue

FINE Gael Cork South West Deputy, Jim Daly, has said that getting a better deal for Ireland in Europe, finding the most effective way to get our people off the dole and getting our finances back on track is what’s driving Government policy.

Responding to a report by Social Justice Ireland about the level of Irish incomes, Deputy Daly said that ensuring a sense of fairness in society is at the heart of everything Government does.

“This Government is engaged in radical reform of the economy, but it is not something that will happen overnight. Ensuring that the weight of our economic burden is borne by those who can most afford it, the Government has introduced a range of measures to protect those on lower incomes and those relying on social welfare.”

Deputy Daily said this includes maintaining income tax rates, bands and credits so that people have certainty about their take-home pay and ensuring no reduction in primary social welfare rates.

“We have also removed 330,000 lower earners from the tax net by exempting them from the Universal Social Charge and have reversed the cut to the minimum wage imposed by Fianna Fáil and the Greens,” he said.

“We accept that the rate of unemployment is still far too high and that the best way to encourage a person’s sense of dignity and independence is through employment. Getting our people back to work is also the most effective way of combating poverty and a culture of dependence. To that end, we have put a number of new initiatives in place to deal with unemployment.

“Pathways to Work is aimed at developing people’s potential and finding out the best way to get them back into the jobs market, through consultation and a needs assessment. Springboard is providing access to education, allowing them to upskill and retrain, making them more employable. Job Bridge enables people to get their foot on the ladder and gain the skills they need through internships in the private and public sectors. And through the Action Plan for Jobs, it is hoped that we will get 100,000 people back to work by 2016.

“Increasing Capital Gains Tax (CGT), Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) and DIRT to 30% ensures that the wealthy in society contribute more. Reducing the tax-free thresholds for CAT to take account of the fall in asset values over the last number of years contributes significantly to this.

“Personal Insolvency legislation is helping people to find a way out of debt and initiatives such as a the seed capital scheme, the microfinance loan scheme and the partial loan guarantee scheme are make it easier for entrepreneurs to get started and develop market potential so that much needed jobs can be created.

“The Government is all too aware of the difficulties being faced by households and the sacrifices that are being made across the board. That is why all of the decisions are being made in the fairest way possible, so that we can create a better Ireland in the future for all our people.”