People Before Profit Launch Budget 2021 proposals for a Zero Covid strategy and enhanced protections for workers
People Before Profit propose an All-Ireland Covid Action Fund to support and All Ireland approach
People Before Profit today launched their Alternative Budget 2021: A Zero Covid Strategy in the plaza of the Department of Health in Dublin.
TDs Richard Boyd Barrett, Bríd Smith, Gino Kenny and RISE TD Paul Murphy outlined the steps that would be required for Ireland to implement a Zero-Covid strategy to effectively deal with the Coronavirus pandemic in this country.
The main provisions to implement a Zero-Covid Strategy through Budget 2021 in the document are:
(1) Make a serious investment in a ‘Zero-Covid Strategy’ including tracking and tracing, protecting workers and investments in health and other public services an also creating and All-Ireland Covid Action Fund;
(2) Boost employment through investment in the public sector – including housing, transport and education – badly damaged through the years of austerity;
(3) Redistribute resources and services to low and middle-income workers and the more vulnerable in society who need support in a more turbulent economic and public health environment;
(4) Direct resources into climate change initiatives that are capable of contributing to our Co2 emission reductions over the next decade while guaranteeing a just transition for working people and ensuring climate measures improve the quality of life for the majority;
(5) Increase the tax contribution of corporations, big business and the wealthiest to fund the necessary investing in the Zero-Covid Strategy, healthcare, housing, social protection and climate action.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “With the Covid infection rates rising dramatically across the country, we can see clearly that the government’s strategy of trying to live with Covid has failed. This seriously endangers the people that live on this island and seriously jeopardises our health service’s capacity to cope with a second wave.
“People Before Profit believe this island, on an all-Ireland basis, needs to take a different approach. We think that a Zero-Covid Strategy should be implemented, North and South. We believe that Budget 2021 should be used to fund such a plan.
“We propose a mass testing and tracing regime where tests are increased to 200,000 per week which would cost €828 million. We believe that a system of pooled testing could be utilised in order for the system to become more efficient and we propose serious investment in public health to beef up our tracking systems.
“Capacity in our public health system is vital to dealing with the covid crisis and also non-covid care. That is why we propose to hire an additional 4,000 nurses so that we can increase this much needed capacity in the health service. This would cost €206 million. There also should be an increase of 1,000 acute beds at a cost of €328 million and 263 ICU beds at a cost of €395 million.
“Workers have borne the brunt of the covid crisis- whether it be losing their jobs, income or being on the frontline in our shops, hospitals and public transport infrastructure. Shockingly the government decided to cut the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for people in a cynical and nasty move. All workers affected by the Covid pandemic must be supported with a minimum payment of 350 euros per week, including those over the age of 65 and seasonal workers. It is also essential to ensure that workers in the taxi industry, the arts, entertainment, events, hospitality tourism and others whose industries are specifically affected and show no sign of returning to pre Covid levels of activity in the medium term are supported with tailored and targeted schemes involving step down payments to allow for partial returns to work in an ongoing Covid crisis.
“We also propose to double the €12 million budget allocated to the HSA so that adequate workplace inspections can be carried out to protect workers.
“Cases in the North have gone through the roof and the Tory government seem to be holding out the required funding to implement the measures to deal with the crisis. In order to properly implement a Zero-Covid strategy all parts of this island need to be in line with one another.
“With that in mind we propose to help the North with an All-Ireland Covid Action Fund. This would cost €250 million.”
“Some of the measures which we propose to gather money to fund Zero-Covid include a 10% levy on the pharmaceutical industry and private health care companies which would bring in €2 billion. We would double the corporation tax declared for the latest set of fully available figures by closing loopholes created for tax and avoidance which would bring in €10.4 billion.
“We also propose to tax the richest 5% of households 1.5% on their accumulated assets exempting €1 million for a family home. This would raise €3.827 billion.
“A Financial Transaction Tax and a tax on Property Speculation and Land hoarding are also proposed.”
Comprehensive measures, costings and figures can be seen in the Alternative Budget 2021: Download it here.