On Thursday the 18th November the South Dublin County Council Budget for 2022 was approved. Approval, or rejection, of the Budget is one of very few reserved functions for councillors. Councillors Madeleine Johansson, Kieran Mahon and Leah Whelan commented “This means that the overall Budget strategy is a matter of decision for the elected councillors, not the council management. While the actions that can be taken within the budget are limited we believe that a substantial change in strategy is both desirable and possible. Ordinary people are facing substantial increases in the cost of living with fuel prices, bills and more significantly housing costs going through the roof. The deeply unfair Local Property Tax continues to make up a significant portion of the Budget. Rents for council tenants have been increased in the two previous budgets, including for those in receipt of the State Pension.”
They continued “At the same time, the major corporations located in South Dublin County are left untouched. We proposed to tackle this unfairness by increasing rates by 50% for rate payers above the €100 000 Annual Rates Billing Band. This measure would raise an additional revenue of approximately €28.8 million for the council and affect just the top 2.3% of corporations. Pfizer based in Clondalkin within walking distance of some of the areas most impacted by austerity and neglect are reportedly set to make €33 Billion in 2021 from the Covid19 Vaccine. Likewise Amazon in Tallaght continue to reap massive global profits while exploiting Ireland’s Corporate Tax Haven, the environment and local labour. Instead of being left unchallenged this funding could be used to provide a range of additional services in the county as well as increasing staffing levels in the council to deal with the crisis in housing, the environment and wider public services”.
Local Councillors Madeleine Johansson, Kieran Mahon and Leah Whelan commented “We also proposed that the money raised be used to reverse all rent increases that have been foisted on council tenants in recent years. It is deeply unfair that those who have the least have been asked to pay more, while the big corporate landlords who own thousands of apartments across South Dublin have been left off the hook and continue to receive hundreds of millions of state handouts through the HAP Scheme. Recently, we have found that staff shortages in the council are having an increasing impact on our communities. Council tenants are being let down when it comes to simple maintenance requests, and communities are finding it increasingly difficult to contact council staff. The understaffing also affects the existing staff who are put under pressure to deliver services without enough resources”.
The People Before Profit representatives said “Our proposals could have offered a real opportunity to do things differently. Councillors could have used the Budget process to highlight the deep inequality in our communities by refusing to quietly accept their lot. Unfortunately, other councillors didn’t support our efforts but were happy to accept crumbs when we could have got the whole cake. The amendment was defeated with 3 votes in favour, 27 against and 4 abstentions. It’s disappointing that councillors who call themselves left wing criticise policies like Housing First and The Governments Climate Action Bill in the national media but then accept it locally without a whimper. This shows why a genuine socialist and left alternative that will stand and fight in the interests of ordinary people and challenge the interests of big capital is needed. The people who elected us wanted to see real change in our council. We will continue to fight for that change”.