Families are to benefit from 100,000 extra GP-only medical cards, increased childcare subsidies and an income tax cut in today’s Budget.
Income thresholds to qualify for a free doctor and the Affordable Childcare Scheme are to be substantially hiked.
Workers will get €5 a week back through changes to the income tax bands and USC, while all social welfare recipients, including pensioners, will also get a €5 boost. These will be primarily paid for by a VAT rise to 13.5pc in the hospitality sector.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has backtracked on long-planned increases to petrol and diesel through carbon tax. Other measures include:
- Back to School Allowance up €25;
- Fuel Allowance extended by a week;
- 25c increase to the minimum wage;
- Home Carers’ Tax Credit up €300;
- Inheritance Tax threshold to rise by €10,000 to €320,000;
- ‘Granny-flat’ grant.
The talks on the Budget went down to the wire last night after the Independent Alliance members of Government arrived in Paschal Donohoe’s office with fresh demands.
It is understood they secured a €10,000 rise in the existing threshold for inheritance tax for children who are left property by their parents – something Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ruled out just last month.
They also got a commitment that Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will establish a ‘Home Conversion Grant Scheme’ to help ’empty nesters’ convert their houses into two units.
Tourism Minister Shane Ross lost the battle to stop the special 9pc VAT for the hospitality sector being hiked to 13.5pc. However, he is understood to have got in the region of €40m for tourism initiatives as compensation.
In a video message last night, Mr Donohoe said the Budget would “benefit families by looking to make childcare more affordable, looking to ensure that the cost of really important medical services get a little bit cheaper than it is at the moment”.
The Irish Independent understands that Health Minister Simon Harris’s budget is to stretch beyond €16bn next year. This will allow for 100,000 new GP-only medical cards, a 50pc per item reduction in prescription costs for older people and a lowering by €10 of the maximum a family can pay for medicine in a single month.
There will also be a dedicated allocation for Sláintecare, an additional €55m for mental health services and funding for 100 new therapists to improve assessments of children with special needs.
Around 16,000 children up to the age of 15 are to be brought into the Affordable Childcare Scheme for the first time.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone plans to use a large chunk of the additional €90m she secured in negotiations with the Finance Minister to significantly expand her flagship scheme.