Budget 2018: Key points
€1.83 billion allocated, with 3,800 social houses to be built
The Housing Assistance Payment Scheme to increase by €149m
Funding for homeless services up by €18m
€750m for commercial investment in housing finance.
Stamp duty on commercial property to rise from 2% to 6%
Vacant site levy up from 3% in first year to 7% in second and thereafter
New house-building entity to boost construction
Additional 1,300 teaching posts
€1.7 billion invested in special education
1,000 new Special Needs Assistants to be recruited before September 2018.
800 more gardaí, plus 500 civilians to be hired also.
1,800 more staff in frontline services
Reduced prescription charges for medical card holders under 70 from €2.50 to €2 per item.
The monthly cap drops from €25 to €20
Threshold for Drugs Payment Scheme dropping from €144 to €134.
Increase of €685m in Department of Health spending
€5 per week increase in all weekly social welfare payments
Christmas bonus payment of 85% to be paid
€20 increase in earnings threshold for the One Parent Family Payment and Jobseekers'
Family Income Supplement up by €10 per week
€2.50 increase in the Telephone Support Allowance
Home carer credit up by €100 to €1,200.
Higher rate of income tax will rise next year by €750 per annum.
Entry point for single earners now €34,550.
Universal Social Charge will reduce rates
Entry point to USC still €13,000.
Earned Income Credit for the self-employed up by €200 to €1,150 a year.
Reduction in seven-year period for full relief from Capital Gains Tax to four years.
Mortgage interest relief will be cut next year
New and Old
New Sugar tax from April 2018
Excise duty on packet of 20 cigarettes to rise by 50 cents.
VAT on sunbeds
€17 million to incentivise an increase in electric vehicles.
0% Benefit-in-Kind rate for electric vehicles alongside the VRT relief and SEAI grant.
A Brexit Loan Scheme has been announced to assist SMEs.
The VAT rate on the tourism and services sector will remain.
Rainy Day Fund
A Rainy Day Fund of €1.5 billion set up.
Here's what local political representatives had to say on Budget 2018:
Heather Humphreys TD (FG)
First the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and local Fine Gael TD, Heather Humphreys, has said that a number of measures announced in Budget 2018 will come as welcome news for older people in Cavan and Monaghan.
The new Telephone Support Allowance of €2.50 per week
Fuel allowance of €22.50 per week being extended
€5 weekly increase in the rate of weekly pension payments
An extra €10 million towards the Free Travel scheme in 2018
Christmas bonus of 85% paid to qualifying payment recipients in early December.
Increase in funding for home adaptation grants
“Fine Gael will continue to protect our economic growth and ensure we use the resources to improve the lives of those in their better years here in Cavan and Monaghan,” she said.
Niamh Smyth TD (FF)
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts & Heritage Niamh Smyth meanwhile also expressed her disappointment that the government has “once again missed” an opportunity to seriously invest in the arts in Ireland. She expressed her disappointment that the government has once again missed an opportunity to seriously invest in the arts in Ireland
“Since I was appointed Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on the Arts, I have been meeting with different people involved in the sector, including teachers, writers, filmmakers and community arts groups. All have been vocal and consistent in their calls for more funding for the arts, which was decimated after 2011”, explained Deputy Smyth.
Among her primary gripes included that Ireland’s national funding agency for the arts will receive an increase of just 4%, remaining €15m below 2008 levels.
She further for the Government to clarify how the government will spend the €8.5m committed to Creative Ireland. “I am worried by the continued failure of this government to deliver on the details of how money will be spent and how it can be expected to improve ordinary people’s lives.”
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD (SF)
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disabilities and Older People, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD agreed, believing the Budget 2018 has failed to provide for the most vulnerable of citizens.
He said the budget lacks any specific new measures to address the particular challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. “It must be a disappointment to the 640,000 people with disabilities and their carers and loved ones. It represents a failure by this Government to face up to their responsibilities to those of our citizens least able to support themselves.”
The €5 increase in social welfare payments, including for those in receipt of disability allowance, he said will not come into effect until March. “There is absolutely no reason why people depending on social welfare should be forced to wait six months, until March 2018, for this additional relief.”
Matt Carthy MEP (SF)
Fellow party member Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said the Budget announced by Paschal O'Donohoe represented a return to boom and bust economics which he says led to the crash which caused so much devastation to Irish society.
Carthy, a member of the European Parliament's Economic & Monetary Affairs committee, said the Budget was “a boom for Fine Gael’s privileged friends and bust for everyone else.”
Among the issues he pointed to were that a €20,000 earner will be €53 a year better off while a €70,000 will be €328 a year better off
“Giving €330m in tax cuts demonstrates scant regard for the plight of ordinary families struggling to make ends meet.”
He furthermore branded the €50m announced to meet the challenges of Brexit as “pathetic”.
Considering that Brexit could lead to up to a 7% drop in GNP, he pointed to the Sinn Féin proposed Capital Plan for an increase spending by €1.6b to prepare for Brexit.
Joe O'Reilly Sen (FG)
On the other hand, Fine Gael Senator Joe O'Reilly was effusive in his praise for the €1.5 billion earmarked for the Agriculture sector will ensure rural communities are Brexit-proofed.
The extra €64 million funding announced for the sector in Budget 2018 he said would ensure Ireland’s largest indigenous industry is prioritised and will strengthen the sector’s ability to meet the challenges of Brexit.
The Department he said would also provide supports for capital investment in the food industry to increase competitiveness, innovation and opportunity, and additional supports for Bord Bia marketing and promotion activities.
“These schemes will be developed in 2018 in cooperation with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and others and will ensure supports for farmers who need them most.”
Brendan Smith TD (FF)
While welcoming a number of the elements of Budget 2018, Fianna Fáil's Brendan Smith sdaid there remains “two most pressing issues” at the present time- housing and homelessness as well as delays in people accessing health services.
“Every day I speak to people on low incomes who are not eligible for social housing and at the same time they have no chance whatsoever of getting a mortgage to buy their own home. The Government must, without further delay, put in place schemes to assist people in such financial circumstances to provide their own homes,” he said.
Deputy Smith added that there remains particular challenges in health and hopes additions to the Treatment Purchase Fund will help to reduce some waiting lists. “Again more funding needs to be provided for home support packages which are critical in assisting people to remain in their own homes and not have to move to nursing homes. They are also important in helping older or disabled people following discharge from hospital. In far too many instances there are inadequate home support hours for people who need such assistance.”
What other persons and organisations said:
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has welcomed welcomes the increased allocation, for public health services, of €685 million announced, by the Government.
The INMO notes the stated commitment, within the budget allocation, to increase the number of frontline posts by 1,800 in 2018. However it must be noted that the commitment, contained in last year’s budget statement and in the staffing agreement reached between the Department of Health/HSE and the INMO, explicitly provided for over 1,000 additional nursing/midwifery posts for our public health service in 2017.
Irish Hotels Federation (IHF)
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) welcomes the retention of the 9% tourism VAT rate announced by Minister Donohoe as part of Budget 2018.
Martin Daly, chair of the IHF’s Cavan-Monaghan branch said the rate has been instrumental in the recovery of the tourism industry, which has created approximately 60,000 new jobs since the measure was introduced in 2011. “Tourism is an indigenous export industry which not only supports approximately 230,000 jobs - equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland it also plays a vital role in addressing the regional imbalance in our economy. The 9% VAT rate has been the single most important fiscal initiative for Irish tourism in the last decade and we are pleased the Government has retained the measure.”
Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA)
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed the increased funding of €25m for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme in Budget 2018 describing it as “An important first step towards the full reinstatement of the scheme’s €257m allocation prior to austerity cuts which have severely impacted farmers on the lowest incomes.”
However, Mr Kent was scathing in his response to the minimal increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the derisory reduction in the Universal Social Charge (USC). “It is unacceptable that the commitment given to the self-employed to bring equality in tax treatment has gone by the wayside.
Responding to the Budget Statement by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Irish Heart head of advocacy, Chris Macey said: “The introduction of a sugar sweetened drinks levy is probably the single most important action Government can take to tackle Ireland’s obesity crisis. As a result, this is a landmark day in the fight against what is now recognised as perhaps the biggest threat to the health of the nation.”
Construction Industry Federation (CIF)
The CIF believe the measures announced in the budget are a big step towards addressing systemic weaknesses in Irish infrastructure that could threaten future economic growth.
“These measures will go some way to insulating the economy from externals shocks with the announcement of a 17% increase of €790million in public capital next year. These measures will also support other housing measures announced today. The CIF has consistently stated that Ireland cannot solve its housing crisis without addressing our infrastructure deficit. The Minister recognises that Ireland, currently last in the terms of GDP invested in infrastructure at EU level, must invest and with these announcements Ireland will be closer to the top of the table by 2021. However, delaying investment until 2019 will unnecessarily delay the economic and social benefits of infrastructure delivery. Smart investment now in preparatory work can bring forward delivery dates for major infrastructure projects.”