At the start of 2020, before the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, our country was in full employment with a record 2.36 million people at work.
Almost half a million jobs had been created under Fine Gael in Government since 2011 on the back of policies such as the transformative Action Plans for Jobs and unemployment has fallen from a record 14.7% in 2012 to 5% at the start of 2020.
With the impact of Covid-19, Fine Gael in government introduced essential and critical supports such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme. These supports have helped workers and businesses of all types and sizes with the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on our society.
Fine Gael has also led the development and implementation of nine Regional Enterprise Plans which, in partnership with stakeholders, are driving economic growth and sustaining better standards of living across the country.
Our jobs plan is based on delivering sustainable, enterprise-based jobs growth, with three major long-term priorities to protect jobs and the economy into the future. We must:
- Improve the performance and productivity of our domestic SMEs, with a particular focus on export-oriented firms.
- Give a sustained focus to improving the quality of jobs and work-life balance. We need to ensure that the workplace is as open and responsive to the needs of workers as possible, if we are to help people enjoy a proper work-life balance, remain competitive, win the war for talent and increase the participation rate in our workforce
- Be prepared for the future.
We will continue to manage the public finances responsibly, using budgetary policy to smooth the economic cycle and ensuring that we do not return to the dark days of the past.
Recognising the crucial role of the self-employed, Fine Gael established, and has increased, the Earned Income Tax Credit over a series of budgets since 2016 to match the PAYE Tax Credit. This, along with enhanced access to social welfare supports, is benefiting small business- owners across the country, including small retailers, farmers and tradespeople.
Fine Gael believes in making work pay. We believe that as a person’s wages increase, it is critical that the taxation system does not prevent them from seeing improvements in their take-home pay. Fine Gael secured a package in Budget 2022, for example, that has increased tax credit and increased the standard rate cut-off point so that people can earn more before paying the higher rate of tax.