Slí Eile: The Poor Can't Pay have just issued an important statement about the need for people to make a personal commitment that there will no more cuts in social welfare payments. The statement can be read here. Quite simply, the poor can't pay any more because for many struggling on a meagre income, with little prospect of a job and seeing stealth cuts by a 100 means another cut will be devastating. It may be said that the 'Croke Park' deal, if it passes, will protect the wages and living standards of public sector workers. This is not necessarily the case especially if:
- price inflation resumes in 2010-11 and erodes the real value of wages in the public service
- further taxes on income and property are levied on workers (including those on low income or possibly in 'negative equity'
- there is a serious deterioration in the budgetary situation (the opt-out clause).
While certainty around nominal income going forward may be viewed as better than no loaf and escalation of industrial conflict into full-scale class war, the wider picture needs to be considered including the very real possibility that Government will seek to blame, implicitly or otherwise, the public sector pay lock-in for targetting even more cuts at social welfare recipients and areas of 'non-pay' expenditure (various significant programmes capital and non-capital). All in the interests of appeasing the 'markets' you know. We are living in interesting times whatever the outcome of the Croke Park deal. However, one thing must be assured - let those who care stand together and put the most vulnerable at the top of priorities. It is only fair. And it is good economics because if every shilling taken from the poor leads to further drops in spending and further job losses.