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#Budget18: Complete coverage of today's budget announcements

11 October 2017 23:17
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#Budget18: Complete coverage of today's budget announcements

The Ministers from five departments have given their press briefings on what the Government has billed as a budget developed as a national response to new risks and opportunities.

Minister Donohoe's Budget is on course to leave average working families better off to the tune of between €500 and €600 a year.

Ms Doherty says her budget is "going to balance the books" and build a "fairer society".

Weekly rates of social welfare will rise €5, starting from March 26, 2018, she says. 1.3 million social welfare reicpients will benefit, she says. Young jobseekers on a reduced rate of payment will also get the rise.

Qualified child payment will rise from €29.80 to €31.80 and will impact 400,000 children, Minister claims.

School meals programme will also include Deis schools, while the increased back-to-school funding will be kept also.

The Family Income Supplement is now called the Working Family Payment and the thresholds are raised by €10 per week for families of 1, 2 or 3 children.

The Minister also announced a €20 increase in the income disregard for working lone-parents - it will be €130 per week from 2018.

The fuel allowance payment scheme will be extended by a week, and will come in this winter.

She has also announced new initiatives in the area of employment supports, including one for older jobseekers where employers will get a subsidy to employ people older than 50.

Next up is the Minister for Health Simon Harris to give his budget briefing.

An extra €646m for Health in 2018, €200m of that will go towards pay in the health sector.

Also read: Multi-million euro extension go-ahead for Letterkenny Institute of Technology

There will also be an additional €471m for capital spending from 2018 to 2021. We have a 10-year capital plan for November, says the Minister, which will see more capital funding for Health and more projects developed.

There will be an extra €75m be provided for additional support for waiting list overruns in 2017 and 2018.

There will be €37m for homecare packages and an extra €20m to help manage the increased demands of hospitals for extra bed capacity and support for hospitals. He said a bed capacity review will come up with a number for the amount of extra beds the extra funds will provide.

The Minister said that the waiting lists "aren't accurate" and "we need accurate up-to-date lists".

Cost of prescription charges for all those holding a medical card and aged under 70 will be reduced from €2.50 to €2. The monthly cap drops from €25 to €20.

Primary Care will get €25m to take patients away from hospitals. In relation to GP contracts, he said he is very ambitious about what they can do in Primary Care when negotiating with GPs.

Minister Finian McGrath has announced an increase of €75m for disability services raising it to over €1.7bn in 2018. Meaning around 9,000 people will get access to disabled services, he says.

Minister hopes between 2,000, to 2,500 more people will be able to get respite services in 2018.

Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne says €5m has been allocated to the Healthy Ireland fund.

For the most vulnerable in society, €9m has been allocated to expand drug and alcohol services, especially outside Dublin.

For the elderly, there is a €25m budget allocated next year, with an additional €7m for home help packages and €9.7m for the Fair Deal scheme.

Also read: The price of a packet of cigarettes is going up 50c from midnight tonight

* A further 2,000 homes will be secured through long-term leasing arrangements.

Eoghan Murphy, the Minister for Housing, says Ireland has more than 8,000 homeless people.

He has announced a €760m increase in the housing budget and a €18m increase in homeless budget. He is targeting 3,000 exits from homelessness in 2018.

There will be a 46% increase in housing budget to €1.9bn with the housing needs of 25,500 families to be met.

He said: "We are providing an increase of €5m to expand the mortgage to rent scheme, increasing it to €22m in 2018, so that people can stay in their homes."

His department will have €1.14bn to build new homes next year meaning 3,800 new homes will be built by the State in 2018.

An additional €500m has been allocated to the Rebuilding Ireland scheme.

Vacant site levy will be more than doubled to 7%, with an effective levy of 10% if developers continue to hoard land through 2018 and 2019. This will not be relevant for farmers who have productive land.

New planning guidelines will remove car parking space requirements for new apartment blocks.

€25m over 2018 and 2019 will unlock corporation land for community housing schemes.

He said: "In all, we will meet the housing needs of 25,500 new households on Local Authority waiting lists next year."

The Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) budget will increase by €149m to €301m, he said, and will support a further 17,000 homes.

"HAP will support 350 new tenancies into private sector renting each week next year," he said.

He said his aim is to reduce the dependency on HAP as State housebuilding increases.

Also read: Budget 2018: Here are the main points you need to know

Home Building Finance Ireland will sit alongside Nama, and will begin financing non-Nama debtors in the middle of next year, he said.

The finance will be available at commercial rates, he said, and will lead to a lot more affordable homes being built.

The threshold and decision on who will be able to access the fund has yet to be finalised.

"There will be an almost doubling of houses built by local authorities next year," said the Minister.

He said: "Earlier this week I signed off on 18 of the 34 LIHAF infrastructure investment projects to open up new land banks and provide homes at affordable prices.

Minister Richard Bruton says department will spend more than €10bn this year.

In Higher education, there was €1.54bn in 2017, and there will be €1.57bn next year, with €200bn for PPPs.

He said there will an additional €200m PPP investment and €64m in 2018 for the National Training Fund.

He said nearly 1,300 new teachers will be recruited, and more than 1,000 special needs assistants. There will be an extra 180 special needs classes next September in schools, benefiting more than nearly 1,400 children.

There will be an extra 20 speech and language specialists initially in schools also, and more schools in DEIS.

More than €1m will also be allocated to continued implementation of the policy on Gaeltacht Education.

Ms Mary Mitchell O'Connor said they will be announcing extra current and capital spending. An extra €64.5m is announced for further education and training and higher education, in addition to the €37.5m announced in 2017.

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There will also be an extra 2,000 school places in higher education for those from a disadvantaged background.

There will be an extra €22m provided for an extra 2,000 students in 2018.

There will be €0.5m in funding for gender equality in the education sector.

There will be an increase in capital spending from €110m to 367m in education.

Minister John Halligan announces a €19m skills package to tackle the skills shortage, with €3m for an extra 1,000 places on Springboard Plus.

There will be an additional €10m for apprenticeship programmes, such as culinary and retail apprenticeships, meaning 10 new programmes.

He has also announced €3m for the upgrade of apprenticeships materials. There will also be an extra 1,300 training places.

A further €6.5m will be allocated to provide support for the implementation of the foreign languages strategy and STEM education policy.

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald talking at a press conference for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, says the department has an €871m budget for 2018, with €387m allocated for research next year.

The €300m SME Brexit loans scheme has been set up in case access to credit for businesses dries up.

They will set up a tailored loan scheme for businesses employing less than 500 people. The proposed interest rate will be about 4%.

The Minister says they are also working on a longer term scheme to help firms deal with Brexit.

Also read: Explainer: How the south-west is set to be worst hit

She has announced that the department will recruit an extra 50 staff next year to deal with Brexit issues for businesses, and will also have €50m specifically aimed at easing the fallout from Brexit.

On top of the loans scheme is another €25m in funds for the agri-food sector which employs 173,000 people in Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland will get €122m to support R&D initiatives, saying: "sustaining quality employment in the regions is essential for growth".

Minister John Halligan says Ireland is 10th in the world with regard to scientific research.

He also revealed that the department's increased capital budget for Innovation will allow Ireland to join the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in 2018.

He said joining the ESO will bring fantastic opportunities for Ireland in space research.

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He has announced Science Foundation Ireland will see its funding rise by €4.25m in 2018. It will establish a new future milk research centre run by Teagasc.

Minister Pat Breen welcomes the extra €25m for Enterprise Ireland to fund regional development.

Finishing up, Minister Paschal Donohoe said: "I believe these changes are an essential contribution to a fairer and more decent society.

"We have achieved so much and we can, and we will, achieve more. That is why I commend Budget 2018 to the House."

Mr Donohoe said: "This Budget achieves sustainable and affordable tax reform, delivers improvements in services, and ensures increased investment in our national infrastructure.

"We are broadening our tax base to make it more resilient and secure in the future.

"As a country, we normally make these decisions at times of national difficulty. Let us resolve to do this differently now."

The Home Carer Credit is set to increase €100 in 2018 to €1200 a year.

The Minister announces that 147,000 self employed to see Earned Income Credit raised €200 to €1,150 in 2018.

The 12.5% Corporation Tax Rate remains unchanged. The Minister said: "It is, and will remain, a core part of our offering."

"With so much change ahead, Ireland must compete, not only on the rate, but on the ability to offer certainty."

He said: "I am establishing a working group to plan, over the coming year, the process of amalgamating USC and PRSI over the medium term."

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The Minister told the Dáil: "We are broadening our tax base to make it more resilient and secure in the future."

He is also reducing the 5% rate of USC to 4.75% and also reducing the top marginal rate of tax on income up to €70,044 to 48.75%.

The entry point for a single person to enter the income tax rate will rise from €33,800, to €34,550.

The Minister is also increasing the threshold for receipt of the Family Income Supplement by €10 per week for families with up to three children.

A further increase of €100 in the home carer credit this year, bringing the value of the credit up to €1,200 per year.

The Minister has also announced a new phone allowance for social welfare recipients. It's not available to everyone and will be capped at €2.50 per week.

The Christmas bonus payment of 85% will again be paid to all social welfare recipients in 2017.

The Minister has announced a €5 increase in weekly social welfare payments, including disability, carer’s, Jobseekers’ Allowances and State Pension.

There will be €17m to fund the rollout of the Renewable Heat Initiative and schemes to incentivise the uptake of electric vehicles, with 0% benefit-in-kind rate on electric vehicles.

Tusla will extra funding of €40m for child protection bringing the total allocation to €754m.

An additional €20m will be allocated to support a range of childcare measures, including further development of the extended free Pre-School programme, ensuring entitlement to a full two-year service from Sep 2018.

Also read: Murder victim's body may have been in Belfast flat for two years

The Department of Agriculture is to get and extra €64m in Budget 2018, bringing the total in 2018 to €1.5bn.

The budget for new Department of Rural Affairs increasing by €19m for existing programmes - a 12% increase year on year.

The Minister announces that the Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport will get €111m for sport in 2018.

The VAT rate on tourism and services sector WILL NOT change and the Dept of Transport & Tourism will have a budget of over €2bn.

Also, total Dept of Business, Enterprise and Innovation Budget will be €871m next year.

Mr Donohoe dedicated a section of his speech to Brexit-proofing initiatives.

Among them will be a special €300m loans scheme - backed by the European Investment Bank Group, the European Commission and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland - for small businesses, including the food sector, at competitive rates.

Forty new staff will be hired in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and enterprise agencies to meet what Mr Donohoe said were "challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit".

There will also be 1000 extra special needs teachers by Sept 2018 bringing total to 15,000.

Education spending of over €10bn, 16.6% of total expenditure. There will be 1,300 extra teaching posts in schools for 2018. This will lower the Pupil - teacher ratio to 26:1.

Minister introduces a Sugar tax of 30c per litre on sugary drinks and a 20 cent tax on a litre of fizzy drinks with 5-8g per 100ml.

Also read: Chancellor to meet US bank chiefs as Brexit clouds linger over economy

To make a "healthier Ireland", the Minister says will be an extra 50c on a pack of 20 cigarettes. This will bring the price of cigarettes in the most popular price category to €12.

Nama will still be wound down and the HBFI will comply with state aid rules, but will use NAMA expertise.

There will be €750m from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund allocated for commercial investment in housing through new entity - Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI).

Mortgage relief has been lowered to 75% for 2018, 50% 2019 and 25% in 2020.

The Drug Payment Scheme threshold has been lowered from €144m to €134m.

A reduction in the prescription levy for those aged under 70 years from €2.50 per item to €2 per item, with a subsequent reduction in the monthly cap from €25 to €20.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has been allocated €55m, a trebling of the 2017 figure.

An extra €471m to be made available from 2018 - 2021 for primary care.

Up to 1,800 more frontline staff in acute, mental health, disability, primary and community care sectors .

There will be an increased allocation to Health of €685m for 2018 which will bring Health funding to €15.3bn, almost 5% increase.

On Capital Gains Tax, seven-years owners must retain assets to enjoy full relief of CGT to be lowered to four years.

The Minister has announced a 3% vacant site levy for 1st year of vacant site to more than double to 7%. Any landowners who doesn't develop in 2018 will pay 3% in 2018 but 7% from 2019 on.

To fight homelessness, the Minister announces an €18m increase to €116m. for emergency accommodation.

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He said: "The message to vacant site owners is clear – to have your levy lifted, you need to get on with developing your lands urgently."

An allocation of €750m will come from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund for commercial investment in housing through a new entity called Home Building Finance Ireland. This will subsume Name, which will be wound down.

He said: "The level of stamp duty on commercial property transactions will increase from 2% to 6% from midnight tonight."

He said: "I am making up to €750m of the ISIF available for commercial investment in housing finance."

"I am providing an extra €500m for the direct building programme which will see an additional 3,000 new build social houses by 2021, increasing the existing Rebuilding Ireland target of social housing homes to 50,000, of which 33,500 will be delivered through construction."

An increase of €31m has been allocated to the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme bringing total to €115m.

Funding for Homeless Services will be increased by a further €18m to over €116m.

"Housing remains a priority for this Government," he says, announcing 3,400 new social homes next year.

He said: "I am increasing voted capital expenditure by €790 million from €4.54 billion this year to just over €5.3bn in 2018."

He said: "I am raising additional revenue in order of €830m, giving a total Budget day package of almost €1.2bn. I will also be introducing tax reductions on income worth €335m"

Also read: Taoiseach says Budget 2018 measures are 'small steps in right direction'

He said: "I am announcing an allocation of capital expenditure of €4.3bn over the next four years."

He aims to establish the Rainy Day Fund in 2018 and transfer €1.5bn to it from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The annual contributions of €500m will commence in 2019 after we have achieved the MTO set in 2018.

Reducing the debt burden is "critical" and is "too high". "We cannot ignore the level of debt and what it could mean for future generations," he said, adding the focus would remain on continuing to reduce the debt burden.

The budget will achieve the medium-term budget objectives, says the Minister.

He says the economy continues to grow strongly, real growth is projected to be 4.3% in 2017 & 3.5% in 2018.

He outlined his three economic pillars: Safeguard our national finances, promote fairness and make sensible and long-term investments.

Paschal Donohoe says we build on progress that would have looked impossible only a few short years ago.

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Source: irishexaminer.com

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