Ireland needs a new social contract that protects workers, families and communities. We are in uncertain times but there are two things we can be certain of. The twin threats of Covid-19 and Brexit will dominate all our lives in 2021. The pandemic will be with us for most of next year at least, and there is no guarantee of a free trade deal.
We must remedy the unprecedented economic and social disruption, but also rebuild an economy that works for us all. We cannot go back to a model where so many are left behind. We must build hope for a better future.
Once again huge unemployment is our greatest immediate risk. It will be 16% this year, higher than at the worst point of the last recession. With over 500,000 citizens without work it is expected that unemployment will remain at above 10% through 2021.
Billions of euros of public support will be needed to tackle this crisis. Those in low paid and precarious work have been hit hardest and the yawning gaps in our public services have been exposed for all to see. When the worst came, it was our collective public effort that reopened our schools, kept public transport running and ensured our health services were not overrun. We must apply the same state investment and political focus to the housing crisis and to climate change.
The unwritten social contract, where the State provides the worker with a decent standard of services – housing, healthcare, childcare – and a social safety net, is broken. But it can be fixed. Covid-19 has revealed some unacceptable truths about the state of our country. There can be no going back to the broken system.
Labour’s Budget Strategy is simple. Whatever it takes to both save and create jobs, while protecting our people, must be done. We must forge a new understanding. A new social contract. Read our Alternative Budget here. /download/pdf/a_new_social_contract_-_labour_budget_2021.pdf