“The latest CSO Household Budget Survey shows that our economic recovery is being used to reduce inequality across the country.” That’s according to Fine Gael Dublin North West TD, Noel Rock.
Deputy Rock was speaking after a new release from the CSO found that ‘the gap between the highest and lowest income households narrowed between 2009-2010 and 2015-2016’.
The ‘Household Budget Survey’ found that the ratio of the highest to the lowest household disposable incomes was approximately 11 to 1 in 2015-2016, a decrease from 12 to 1 in 2009-2010. This is still high, but the trend is moving in the right direction, and Fine Gael is working to ensure it keeps moving in the right direction.
This week’s CSO results confirm the findings on the CSO SILC release earlier in the year which found that Ireland is more equal and that poverty is decreasing. In 2015 SILC recorded decreases in the ‘Gini co-efficient’( the most commonly used measure of inequality); consistent poverty; at risk of poverty and deprivation.
Speaking on the matter Deputy Rock said: “This CSO report completely contradicts the arguments of those on the hard left who like to talk up social inequality in order to score political points.
“Contrary to what they allege, the gap between rich and poor is not widening. In fact it is going in the other direction thanks to the commitment of Fine Gael to using our economic recovery to reduce inequality in society.
“This is a direct result of Government decisions to protect core social welfare payments during the tough years, to prioritise job creation, and then to focus on tax cuts on low and middle earners when resources allowed.
“People who like to misrepresent the approach of Fine Gael conveniently ignore a few truths.
“It was Fine Gael who reversed the cut to the minimum wage when we took office during the economic crisis. We increased the minimum wage three times after Fianna Fáil savagely cut it, hurting the most vulnerable in society.
“It was Fine Gael who removed approximately 450,000 low and middle income earners from the USC.
“It was Fine Gael who gave the increase to social welfare recipients in the last Budget, keeping our promise to increase the old age pension. It was the Taoiseach, then Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, who insisted that we must also give the same increase to the poorest people and the most vulnerable in our society, including 800,000 disabled people, carers, lone parent families and the unemployed. For many people it was the first increase in such payments in eight years.
“This week’s CSO figures do also highlight the work yet to be completed and Fine Gael remains committed to the task at hand. We must continue to ensure that our economic recovery benefits those who need it most.
“In order to do so we must protect and sustain the economic progress we have made over the last six years; economic progress that was very hard won. We cannot afford to throw it all away on populist politicians and parties who would risk our recovery.”