Budget 2018 is delivering for families and the economy

Welcoming yesterday’s Budget package, Minister Kehoe stated; “It is imperative that this Budget protects the recovery that has been so hard-won over the last number of years and prepares the country for the challenges that Brexit will present in the coming years.

“What we have is a sensible and fair package that in which the Government have taken decisive action on a number of fronts aimed at providing opportunity and making life better for families and at balancing our books to keep Ireland secure in a risky world.

“In preparing for Brexit or any unforeseen eventuality, we are developing a “rainy day fund” and working towards balancing our books in structural terms in 2018.  We are also introducing Brexit Loan schemes for SMEs and the agri-food sector, retained the 9% VAT rate for the Tourism Sector and will increase resources in the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.

“With more and more people working, this Budget works towards making work pay and ensuring that our tax system is fairer, especially for low and middle income earners.  Targeted reforms to income tax rates and the reduction in USC bands will be worth €500/600 to an average family with two incomes.

“In addition, changes to a variety of schemes, including One Parent Family Payment, Family Income Support aimed at supporting working families will provide a further safety-net for low-income families, providing greater reward for work.

“An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1150 is making further progress on tax equality for the self-employed.

Budget 2018 also focused on investment to improve services that support families, with a €60.9b budget for public services.  Outlined in Minister Donoghue’s speech were increases to the frontline staff in the Health Service, Education and the Gardai.

“This commitment for increased staff is accompanied by the expansion to the free pre-school programme, increased funding for Tusla, increases in social Welfare payments and a 17% increase in capital investment prioritising housing.

“From a health perspective, Budget 2018 delivers better access, more help for families and more supports for disability, mental health, and older and vulnerable people.  An additional €646 million in current expenditure is being allocated to Health in Budget 2018. Over €200 million of this is for new developments. Reduced prescription charges for medical card holders from €2.50 to €2 and the €10 reduction of in the monthly threshold for Drug Payment Scheme will provide welcome relief from medical expenses.

“Fine Gael in Government is delivering for families and the economy and we are giving a little back to those who have had to make sacrifices during what were very tough times for our country. The gains we have made since the dark days of the recession are hard won and they are fragile, especially in the context of Brexit. However we are in a position to protect our economic recovery and use some of the resources it provides to give everyone a fair chance, and the opportunity to reach their full potential.”