Éilis Ryan 
Do you want even more evidence of just how damaging cuts to public spending are to our society, and our economy? 

Sonas Housing,  who provide crisis shelter to women at risk of domestic violence, this morning reported that they turn away four out of every five women who knock on their door seeking refuge, because of lack of funding. It's an extraordinary number, but unsurprising given that the number of shelter spaces in Ireland is less than a third of what European human rights bodies recommend. 

It's yet another example of how underfunded public services and supports are in this country. It's obvious to anyone who's looking that, for a Labour party, we need more, not less, state funding for services like education, health, and things like domestic violence shelters. Our state has a responsibility to protect and support its citizens - and it needs  funding to doing that. 

That's why, as a Labour member, I am so convinced of the critical importance of the Campaign for Labour Policies' pre-budget submission, Growth through Solidarity. 

At its launch today, our spokesperson Neil Warner spoke of how, amongst other things, state funding for strong public services and supports is at the core of progressive, left-wing political values.  Speculation is that two-thirds of savings in Budget 2013 will come from spending cuts. To us, as Labour members, this makes no sense. Ireland is currently a disproportionately low-tax, low-spend economy, and it is clear that savings should be made by increasing taxation levels to international norms and, by doing this, laying the foundations for a genuine welfare state.

Austerity is broken on every front. Morally, it is indefensible that the last budget fell more heavily on the bottom 40% of households than on the richest 30% - such inequality is anathema to Labour values.[1]  But even according to the neoliberal logic of the proponents of austerity, the cuts have failed: our economy continues to stagnate and the dole queues continue to grow. 

It's time for an alternative, and the members of the Labour party are leading the way. 

[1] http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/QEC2011Win_SA_Callan.pdf


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