The Programme for a Partnership Government, published on 11 May 2016, sets out an ambitious programme of work to protect our growing economy and ensure that the results are felt by all citizens. This one core objective, to make life better for everyone – individuals, families and business, is at the heart of the Government’s work.
This is the first Programme for Government Annual Report of this Government and it sets out progress on over 300 commitments across all of Government over the past 12 months. It reflects the hard work and dedication the Government has applied to its promises.
One key objective of the Government is to tackle the housing crisis. The first ever Minister for Housing was appointed and there has been a strong focus on deliver across the five pillars of the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which was published in July.
Unemployment has dropped from 8.4% to 6.2% since this time last year. While committed to tackling the most pressing challenges Ireland faces, there is a continuing focus on increasing employment across the country. The first progress reports of the eight Regional Action Plans for Jobs show that employment increased in all regions and 70% of the new jobs added in 2016 were outside Dublin. An Action Plan for Rural Development was launched in January 2017, the first time a framework has been developed to provide a coordinated approach across Government to the economic and social development of rural areas.
Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the Government has been clear on its Brexit priorities: minimising the impact on trade and the economy; protecting the Northern Ireland Peace Process; maintaining the Common Travel Area; and influencing the future of the European Union. Now that the EU’s initial negotiating position is clear, the Government will prepare a further paper on economic implications of the Brexit challenge.
The Annual Report provides a comprehensive update on the progress of the commitments in its first year including:
- Strong focus on delivery of new Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness
- €226m allocated for 34 Local Infrastructure projects
- 800 public owned sites identified with potential for housing
- New Help-to-Buy Scheme launched
- Central Bank mortgage rules for deposits changed
- Rent Pressure Zones designated to cap rent increases
- Threshold Tenancy Protection Service extended
- New Buy and Renew /Repair and Leasing Schemes targeting run-down properties
- Regional Action Plan for Jobs report 70% of new jobs are outside Dublin
- An extra €2.2bn for investment in public services allocated in Budget 2017
- USC rates reduced in Budget 2017 targeting those on lower incomes
- Minimum Wage increased in 2017 to €9.25 per hour
- New medicines agreement to save up to €750m on medicines spend
- Construction of new National Children’s Hospital to commence imminently
- New mortgage resolution service ‘Abhaile’, providing free independent financial /legal advice
- Taskforce on Personalised Budgeting established for people with disabilities
- Medical cards for some 9,800 children in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Extra free year of childcare and new Paternity benefit in place
- New allocation model for special education teachers being introduced for schools
- 79 new schools granted DEIS status as part of new DEIS support programme
- 24,000 households upgraded under the Better Energy Programme in 2016
- Agri-food exports valued at over €12bn supporting 173,000 jobs last year
- Legislation published to strengthen the bail system and protect victims of crime and victims of domestic abuse
- Citizens’ Assembly established and voted on its first topic in April
- ‘Creative Ireland’ launched as the major cultural legacy programme for Ireland 2016 with 10 major initiatives for delivery in 2017