Irish taxpayers share their thoughts on health, childcare and the environment
"Don't spend our taxes on the broken health system, fitness incentivisation or childcare."
These are the sentiments expressed in the latest Taxback.com Taxpayer Sentiment Survey.
Coming in advance of the October 9th Budget announcement, the survey asked more than 1,600 taxpayers for their thoughts on areas of focus for government spending, including healthcare, childcare, sports and fitness.
"Healthcare, childcare and carbon tax – these are some of the areas dominating the pre-Budget debates, and with this in mind we thought we'd go to the polls to ask the public for their views on where they want to see their tax money spent," said Eileen Devereux, Commercial Director at Taxback.com.
Perhaps the most striking finding from the survey related to Ireland's much maligned healthcare system. 81% of respondents said that they did not believe that money is the 'cure all' to the country's healthcare troubles. 62% said that money is just part of the answer with a further 19% believing that there are 'so many other problems' that cannot be fixed by an injection of capital.
The survey also outlined that support was not high for some of the potential prevention tactics the government could use to tackle the country's health problems.
"We know that the government receives a return of €149 for every €100 invested in sport," said Devereux. "This is due to the health benefits associated with more people being active and the resultant reduced healthcare costs for the State. With this in mind we asked the respondents whether they would be in favour of the government subsidising sport and fitness costs (such as club or gym membership) for the public.
"However, our survey revealed firm agreement (43%) that public money should go to better uses than on fitness in general, with only 39% voicing their support for such an initiative.
"This is an interesting reflection perhaps of how many people would avail of a fitness incentive or it may simply echo the fact that people are prioritising greater pressing social concerns.
"With waiting lists and healthcare provision being such a hot topics at the moment, it's easy to see why we would want to divert funds towards those very immediate measures. However, prevention is better than cure. I would say that perhaps greater communication needs to come from the powers that be to highlight the returns on public investment that support healthy living."
The survey also revealed that, while 78% of people were in support of subsidies towards childcare costs in order to encourage mothers back into the labour force, there was division in how to achieve this. The vast majority – 58% - said that funding should come through the existing tax pot and that they would not be prepared to pay additional taxes. A further 18% said that children are a 'choice' and government subsidies should not be provided, with 4% saying the government already does enough in this regard.
"While previous surveys we have conducted have indicated a great desire for action by the government on primary social issues, the lack of willingness on the part of the public to reach deeper into their pockets to further fund the resolution issues like childcare is perhaps indicative of how stretched people already feel in terms of tax contributions," said Devereux.
"With whisperings now around an extension to the maternity and paternity payments - it will be interesting to see whether or not the public welcome or rail against this measure."
Ireland is under pressure to meet its climate change obligations. It has been mooted that the government may include some measures in Budget 2019 to help lower our emissions.
"The survey also indicated sharp resistance to government plans for carbon tax increases," said Devereux. "In fact, 71% of respondents were opposed to such measures.
"Recent reports have suggested that costs for petrol, diesel and home heating fuel will all rise in accordance with increased government levies on CO2 per tonne emissions. This will hit families hardest, with recent figures indicating that a 2-car family with multi-fuel home heating could face up to an additional €200 a year in carbon taxes. It's easy to see why this would be unpopular with already cash-strapped families.
"There's no doubt that Budget 2019 will be a contentious one for the government, and clear from our survey that it will take more than 'silver bullet' spending tactics in order to improve public sentiment around our most pressing social issues."
Budget 2019 Taxback.com Taxpayer Sentiment Survey Results
Q: The government receives a return of €149 for every €100 invested in sport. This is due to the health benefits associated with more people being active and the resultant reduced healthcare costs for the State. With this in mind, should the government subsidise sport & fitness costs such as club & gym membership for the public?
|No – there’s better use of public money||43%|
|Yes – great idea||39%|
|I don’t know – I don’t think some people should be rewarded for being active and others get nothing because they’re not 'sporty'||18%|
Q: Do you think increased funding is the answer to Ireland's healthcare troubles?
|It’s only part of the answer – they should also focus on eliminating wastage and inefficiencies||62%|
|No – there are so many other problems||19%|
|Yes – it’s all down to money||19%|
Q: According to a recent survey from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) more mothers would engage in paid work if childcare costs were lower. With Ireland facing labour shortages, do you think we should be subsidising childcare to facilitate more women in the workforce?
|Yes, but I don’t want to pay more taxes to fund this – they should find the money from the existing tax take||58%|
|Yes absolutely – I would pay more taxes for this||20%|
|No – having children is a choice you make – I don’t want my tax money subsidising people’s life choices||18%|
|No – the State does enough||4%|
Q: To help Ireland meet its climate change obligations, the Taoiseach has hinted that Budget 2019 will include an increase in carbon tax which would push up the costs of petrol, diesel, home heating oil, gas and briquettes. Is this something that you would support?