Influencing change in the budget starts today

What day is the budget on? What time does the Minister start his speech at? As the build-up and speculation around budget day reaches its peak, most of the public thinks when the announcement is made; that’s it.

The reality is different, as the detail of the budget, is not contained in the Minister’s speech or the polished publications that accompany the announcement; but primarily in the Finance Bill. 

As the Finance Bill is published today; interested parties should be reading the sections that are relevant to them, to see if there are any opportunities for them in the Bill to take advantage of; or if something can be dissipated that might negatively impact them.   

The Finance Bill is probably the most important piece of legislation a government will introduce in a year.  Quite often it can differ from budget day, as a result of a top line measure getting a public backlash, like we have seen regarding the first time buyers scheme; or in the past with changes to qualifying criteria for medical cards or the infamous 'individualisation' tax measures.

It’s the moment that matters if you’re seeking change in the Budget, but it requires intelligent communications planning

It can also change due to succinct and targeted lobbying of a particular measure; that may be of interest to a sector.  This can be evidenced from a number of years ago; in 2012; when a fuel rebate was introduced to support the Haulage sector.  Initially the rebate didn’t include private bus operators; but after a targeted response from the sector; they were included as part of the Finance Act.

With the Bill now published, there will now be a period of intensive engagement up until it is enacted. Interested parties who have their homework done; meaningful relationships with decision makers in place; a strategy developed; and execute intelligently will be best poised to take advantage during this period.  

Given the lack of a role for the Seanad in the Finance Bill; any changes that will be made, will be at Committee or Report Stage in the Dail.  So the timeframe for influencing is tight; as the Bill will be passed into law before the Oireachtas closes for its Christmas break.