Young people will benefit from a range of Budget measures which will help them with cost of living pressures, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Emer Higgins, who represents Dublin Mid West, said: “We must recognise the significant challenges facing young people and to help them meet their full potential in education, the jobs market and indeed all walks of life.
“I am pleased Budget 2022 contains a range of measures to assist them, particularly after Covid -19 which saw them sacrifice so much in terms of their working, social and family lives. We are indebted to how young people all over this country responded to and supported this country during the pandemic.
“Funding of €25 million for the introduction of a Youth Travel Card in today’s budget is a major boost. This card will be available to people between the ages of 19 and 23 and will allow them to avail of a 50 per cent discount on fares across the country’s transport network.
“We all know how substantially the cost of living can impact on young people and I’m glad travel costs for the likes of college students and young working people are being addressed in this budget.
“Climate action has also featured heavily in this budget and I recently raised this point in the Dáil that a strong climate action plan requires climate conscious public transport.
“Therefore I really believe that halving the cost of public transport for this age group will mean less people in cars and more people taking the Bus, Dart or Luas or train which will save money but also reduce our carbon emissions and go a long way towards tackling the climate crisis.
“The Government has also accepted the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission to increase the national minimum wage by 30 cent to €10.50 per hour, which is to be welcomed.
“In an extremely significant and progressive move, the Budget contains a dedicated women’s health package worth €31 million. The health package will include access to free contraception for women aged 17-25 from next August.
“The provision of free contraception was a crucial element brought for consideration to the Women’s Health Taskforce established by then Minister for Health Simon Harris, arising out of the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.
“For students attending college from the next college year, the SUSI Maintenance Grant will increase by €200.The income threshold to qualify for student grants will increase by €1,000 – ensuring more students qualify and more families can access support.
“The distance for the higher non-adjacent student grant will be reduced from 45km to 30km. This means more students who are living away from home or travelling to college will qualify for the higher grant.
“These three changes follow on from an increase in post-graduate grants in 2021 and are in addition to €22 million announced in financial and mental health supports for students this week.
“From the next college year, the €200 levy to take part in a PLC Course will be abolished, which will apply to every PLC course in the ETBs across the country.
“Budget 2022 has a total Skills Package of €52 million which includes targeted skills training in areas of need such as climate, developing apprenticeships and an adult literacy plan, which is an extremely welcome development,” Deputy Higgins concluded.