Fine Gael is creating opportunities and providing families with a fair chance in Budget 2018.

Making life easier for families

Fine Gael is creating opportunities and making life easier for families in Budget 2018 by:

– Helping Working Families:

  • Reduction in the 2.5% USC rate to 2% and reduction in the 5% rate of USC to 4.75%.
  • The point at which an income earner attracts the higher rate of income tax will rise next year by €750. The entry point for single earners increases from €33,800 to €34,550.
  • Combined these two measures are worth €500/600 to an average family on two incomes.

– Budget 2018 also helps working families by:

  • Increasing the earnings disregard for the One Parent Family Payment and the Jobseekers’ Transitional scheme by €20 per week.
  • Increasing the threshold for receipt of the Family Income Supplement by €10 per week for families with up to three children.
  • Increasing the weekly rate of the qualified child payment by €2 per week.

– Additional Measures to Support Families Include:

  • Mortgage Interest Relief: Tapered extension will take the form of the continuation of 75 per cent of the existing relief into 2018, 50% in 2019 and 25% in 2020.
  • Further development of the extended free Pre-School programme, ensuring entitlement to a full two year service.
  • This Budget delivers almost 1,300 additional teaching posts in schools in 2018, and as part of this the Pupil Teacher Ratio at primary level will be reduced to 26 to 1.
  • A further increase of €100 this year in the home carers credit, bringing the value of the credit up to €1,200 per year. This credit is of assistance to over 80,000 families.

– Helping Small Business Owners

  • Budget 2018 provides for a €200 increase in the Earned Income Credit, bringing it to €1,150 per year from 2018.  This increase will be of benefit to over 147,000 self-employed individuals.
  • We will launch a Brexit Loan Scheme.  This will make loan scheme of up to €300m available at a competitive rate to SMEs to help them with their short-term working capital needs
  • A new Key Employee Engagement Programme, or KEEP for short, to support small and medium enterprises in their efforts to attract and retain key employees.

Helping people who need it most

Key to our vision is ensuring that everyone gets a fair chance, equality of opportunity and that a safety net is available to them if needed. Fine Gael is helping people who need it most by:

  • Providing for a €5 per week increase in all weekly social welfare payments, including disability allowance, carers allowance and both Jobseekers’ Allowance and benefit to take effect in March.
  • An increase in the national minimum wage to €9.55 per hour.
  • A Christmas Bonus payment of 85% will again be paid to all social welfare recipients in 2017.
  • Over 1,000 additional SNAs will be recruited in time for September 2018, bringing the total number of SNAs to over 15,000.
  • 500,000 medical card holders under the age of 70 to save up to €60 in 2018 from the reduction in prescription charge to €2 per item and the maximum charge to €20 per month.
  • Families to save up to €120 a year in medication costs with a reduction of €10 in the monthly threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme.
  • €90m allocated for improved hospital and access services for patients when they need it.
  • To ensure we have the ability to help our most vulnerable children and families, the allocation to Tusla will be increased by over €40 million, bringing its total allocation to just under €754 million.
  • The recruitment of an additional 1,800 staff aimed at a range of frontline services across the acute, mental health disability, and primary and community care sectors.
  • Mental health funding is increasing by €35m in 2018 with a commitment to increase by €40m in 2019.
  • Funding for Decision Making Services for people with disabilities.

– Tackling Housing & Homelessness:

  • A total of €1.83 billion for housing in 2018
  • 3,800 new social houses will be build next year by the local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies and the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme will deliver an extra 4,000 social housing homes next year
  • Increase in the Housing Assistance Payment by €149 million in 2018 – enabling an additional 17,000 households to be supported and accommodated in 2018
  • Funding for homeless services will be increased to over €116 million
  • Extra €500 million for the direct building programme which will see an additional 3,000 new build social houses by 2021
  • Additional exchequer funding of €75m for Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund which will also support local authority delivery of affordable housing
  • A new housing agency, Home Building Finance Ireland, to provide cheaper loans to develop 6,000 new homes, funded by €750 million from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund
  • Funding to support the health needs of those who are homeless and have mental health and addiction needs.
  • The housing needs of 25,500 households will be met in 2018. Every working day of the week next year, 98 households will have their housing need met. • The housing needs of 25,500 households will be met in 2018. Every working day of the week next year, 98 households will have their housing need met.

Improving the lives of older people

We want to share the benefits of our return to economic growth by improving the lives of those in their better years. Among the measures included in Budget 2018 which will have a direct impact on older people are:

  • A further €5 increase in the State Pension to come into effect in March.
  • The introduction of an additional investment of €10 million in the Free Travel Scheme is designed to encourage new operators into the scheme and to broaden coverage in more remote parts of rural Ireland.
  • Keeping people independent in their homes:
    • Increase in funding for home adaption grants which will enable up to 11,000 grants to be undertaken to support older people remain at home for longer.
    • Introduction of a new Telephone Support Allowance will benefit over 124,000 people.
    • €37 million extra for Home Care packages and transitional care beds.
    • The extension of the Fuel Allowance to 27 weeks, into the first week of April 2018, will benefit 375,000 households, particularly pensioners, widows, people with disabilities, lone parents and long term jobseekers.
  • Support for nursing home scheme – increased funding to support residential care services arising from an aging population.
  • New primary care fund to support development of GP services, expand community intervention teams and hire more Occupational therapists.
  • This Budget will also provide for a reduction in prescription charges for all medical card holders under 70 from €2.50 per item to €2 per item with a subsequent reduction in the monthly cap from €25 to €20.
  • Families to save up to €120 a year in medication costs with a reduction of €10 in the monthly threshold for Drug payment Scheme.
  • Enhancement of the JobsPlus scheme to support workers aged 50 or over get into employment. Employers will receive a subsidy of €10,000 to employ any long-term unemployed person aged over 50.
  • In addition, funding to improve access to emergency care in 2018 will enable the opening of additional hospital capacity, including new beds and by providing additional diagnostic services and surge capacity to reduce emergency department overcrowding.

Investing in Rural Communities

Fine Gael is ensuring that all parts of the country have an equal opportunity to share in economic growth and prosperity. Budget 2018 benefits rural Ireland by:

  • Providing for resources to allow for the recruitment of an additional 800 Gardaí during 2018 to tackle crime.
  • Another 500 civilian staff will also be hired to get Gardaí out from behind the desk.
  • Retention of the special 9% VAT rate for the tourism sector, all the more pertinent in the context of Brexit and vital for the economy of rural Ireland.
  • In addition, €112m for funding has been provided to enhance further our tourism offering and market our country abroad.
  • An increase in funding of €64million for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This will bring total investment in this sector to over €1.5 billion in exchequer funding in 2018, which will support Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and strengthen the sector’s ability to meet the challenges of Brexit.
  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will also bring forward a comprehensive package of Brexit response measures for 2018 amounting to over €50 million.
  • In addition to the Brexit Loan Scheme, a further €25 million has bene provided to the Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to provide for the development of further Brexit response loan schemes for the agri-food sector.
  • An additional 250 places on the Rural Social Scheme.
  • €5 increase in the weekly Farm Assist payment.
  • €220 million allocation for rural Ireland and communities in Budget 2018, a 12% increase for the Department of Rural and Community Development versus an average spending increase of 3% for other Government Departments.
  • Funding for key programmes and initiatives include
    • €35 million available for LEADER programme
    • Funding for Town and Village Renewal Scheme increased by €3 million to €15 million
    • Outdoor Recreation Scheme to receive increase of nearly €4 million to almost €11.4 million
    • €10 million allocated to Local Improvement Schemes in 2018
    • Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme to receive €43.2 million
    • €46.2 million Community Services Programme moved to Department of Rural and Community Development
    • Increase of €2.9 million to Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE IV 2014-2020), bringing total to €3.7 million.

Investing in Small Business