Social Democrat conference hears call for emergency budget and rent freeze

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Social Democrats have called for an emergency budget and rent caps for three years to tackle Ireland’s cost of living crisis.

At the national party conference at Dublin’s Gresham Hotel, co-leaders Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy said good healthcare and housing shouldn’t be reserved for only the highest earners.

It was the first in-person conference for the party since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic.

During their joint address, the two party leaders presented a series of proposals for measures to deal with the rising cost of living.

For too long, the state has outsourced its responsibilities to the private marketCatherine Murphy

Ms Murphy told the conference: ‘For too long the state has outsourced its responsibilities to the private market.

Ms Shortall added: “This generation of young people will be the first to be worse off than their parents.

“Housing costs are out of control, childcare costs are the equivalent of a mortgage, and energy prices are skyrocketing. Increases in mortgage interest rates over the next few months will add to the pressure on families.

“Inflation is now at 7.8%, a 38-year high.

“People are going into more and more debt to pay for basic necessities and more and more people are at serious risk of poverty.

“So we need to target the measures to those who need it most.”

She added: “We need to act now with an emergency budget.

“The Social Democrats would put 300 euros in the pockets of employees earning up to 50,000 euros, thanks to a refundable tax credit.

“Also create an emergency hardship fund so that those most at risk of food and energy poverty can access emergency payments immediately.

“Raise social protection rates, such as pensions.”

It proposes an increase in social protection of 10 euros per week and asks that the minimum hourly wage be increased from 10.50 to 12.90 euros.

Ms Shortall continued: “Workers shouldn’t have such a struggle just to get by; they need a living wage.

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Catherine Murphy told the national conference that the government’s biggest failure was the lack of affordable housing (Niall Carson/PA)

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Catherine Murphy told the national conference that the government’s biggest failure was the lack of affordable housing (Niall Carson/PA)

Ms Murphy told the conference that the biggest failure of the coalition government was its failure to provide safe and affordable housing.

She said: “Today single people are forced to continue living at home, they share their house, rent tiny apartments at exorbitant cost until they are in their 30s, 40s and even beyond. .

“What kind of society are we building when affordability is defined by the government as 450,000 euros in Dublin, 400,000 in Cork or Galway?

“Do they know that a mortgage of these amounts requires income of at least 114,000. What planet are they on?

She added: “At the heart of the housing crisis is an affordability crisis. The government should do everything in its power to bring prices down so that middle-income people can once again aspire to own their own homes.

“We need to introduce a three-year ban on rent increases to improve tenant safety.”

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