Key Achievements of Fine Gael in Government

1st December, 2017

 

 

Enabling Opportunity for All and Ensuring the Next Generation a Fair Chance

·       Over 2,200 extra posts in schools will be provided in 2018, including, 1,091 Special Needs Assistants and 1,280 new teaching posts.

·       The Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeships and Traineeships in Ireland will deliver 50,000 apprenticeships and traineeship registrations by 2020.

·       We reinstated full maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged post-graduate students, from September 2017.

·       The overall Mental Health Budget will rise from €711 million in 2012 to over €912 million in 2018, an increase of over €200m, or around 28%, in six years.

·       Budget 2018 delivered the highest ever health budget of over €15 billion. In addition, 1,800 new frontline staff will be employed in health in 2018.

·       Total funding provision of €1.9 billion for housing next year is an increase of 46% over 2017 and it will allow us to meet the social housing needs of 25,500 households.

·       In 2018, more than 3,000 exits from emergency accommodation are expected through the provision of social homes and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

·       We will shortly publish the National Investment Plan which will set out key priority themes for public capital investment for the period 2018 to 2027.

 

A Balanced, Sustainable and Ambitious Economy

·       225,000 jobs have been created since we launched the Action Plan for Jobs in 2012.

·       The national unemployment rate has more than halved; it currently stands at 6% in October from a peak of 15.2% in 2012.

·       Youth unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 31% in 2012 to 14% in October.

·       The Irish economy grew by 5.1% in GDP terms last year, confirming that Ireland was the fastest growing economy in the European Union in 2016.

·       For the first time in a decade, Ireland will broadly balance the books in 2018.

·       Budget 2018 provides for a Brexit Loan Scheme of €300m to SMEs for short-term working capital needs.

·       2016 was a record breaking year for Irish tourism; we have retained the 9% VAT rate for the tourism sector.

·       The establishment of a rainy day fund will help us deal with future shocks. We will transfer €1.5bn into it from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, and then put €500m, per annum, into it from 2019.

 

Strong Community and Balanced Regional Development

·       Appointment of a Minister for Rural and Community Development ensuring that the challenge of rural development is addressed.

·       The proportion of jobs being added outside Dublin has increased since the last quarter. 80% – or 4 out of every 5 jobs – added over the period came from outside Dublin.

·       Earlier this year we launched the Action Plan for Rural Development which is the first all of Government response to the economic and social development of rural Ireland

·       The forthcoming National Planning Framework (“Ireland 2040 – Our Plan”) will address unbalanced development that has seen major growth only in the East.

·       Last year we introduced a €150m fund for low interest loans offering cash flow support for farmers.

·       1.5m or 65% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland can get access to high speed broadband and this is set to increase to 77% (1.8m premises) by the end of 2018 and to 90% (2.1m premises) by the end of 2020.

·       We have secured Government approval to immediately provide €30million of State funding to protect the future of the post office network and the continuation of a 5 day week postal delivery service.

·       281 rural towns and villages across the country are set to benefit from over €21 million in funding under the 2017 Town and Village renewal scheme.

·       We recently announced €56m in allocations under the 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme to over 1,700 different sporting projects throughout Ireland.

 

Making Work Pay

·       We cut the USC again in Budget 2018; the 4th successive cut under Fine Gael.

·       In Budget 2018 we increased the entry point to the higher rate of income tax by €750 p.a., from €33,800 to €34,550. Together with the USC cut this is worth €500/600 to an average family on two incomes.

·       Increased Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,150 over 3 Fine Gael budgets, benefitting over 147,000 self-employed people and helping small and growing business around the country.

·       The national minimum wage will be increased to €9.55 in 2018, the 4th increase under Fine Gael.

·       In March, we extended the Treatment Benefit Scheme to some 450,000 self-employed people and their dependent spouses for the first time.  

·       In October, we announced a further extension of the treatments available under the Treatment Benefit scheme.

·       From December, the Invalidity Pension will be extended to the self-employed.

·       New Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP), to support SMEs to retain key employees by providing for an advantageous tax treatment on share options.

·       Draft legislative proposals have been approved to tackle precarious work and zero hour contracts, with a particular focus on low-paid, more vulnerable workers.

 

Making Life Easier for Families

·       Two week’s paid Paternity Benefit for new fathers was introduced in September 2016.

·       From September 2018 all children will be entitled to a full two years of the ECCE scheme or free preschool, as it has become known.

·       A universal childcare subsidy, of up to €1,040 per year, for children aged from 6-months up to starting their free preschool year at 36 months was introduced in September 2017.

·       This year the Back to School allowance has been increased by 25% in recognition of the costs faced by parents at the start of every school year.

·       Budget 2018 reduced both prescription charges and the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme from €144 to €134.

·       All children in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance now get automatic access to a Medical Card, benefiting 9,800 children.

·       Recent CSO data (for September) indicates that private motor insurance premiums have reduced by 14.3% year-on-year.

·       Increased Home Carer’s Credit by €200 to €1,200 (over Budget 2017 and Budget 2018). This credit is of assistance to over 80,000 families where one spouse works primarily in the home to care for children or other dependents.

 

Ageing with Security Dignity and Opportunity

·       Budget 2018 increased the State Pension by €5 per week again, making a total increase of €13 per week over the last 3 Fine Gael budgets.

·       The extension of the Fuel Allowance to 27 weeks, into the first week of April 2018, will benefit 375,000 households.

·       We have increase funding for the Free Travel Scheme to encourage new operators into the scheme and broaden coverage in more remote parts of rural Ireland.

·       Budget 2018 introduced a new Telephone Support Allowance of €2.50 per week for those in receipt of both the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance.

·       We introduced free GP care for over 70s and have cut the monthly cap on prescription charges for over 70s with a medical card to €20, from €25, in 2017.

·       Carers now receive an extra 12 weeks allowance after the person moves into long-term care. This change means you can continue to receive your Carers Allowance for 12 weeks after the person you are caring for goes into long-term care.

·       We recently launched the new Senior Alerts Scheme; €2.3 million has been allocated for the new scheme, which comes into effect on 1 November 2017.

·       Funding of €53m for Housing Adaption Grants to enable up to 11,000 grants to be undertaken to support people with disabilities and older people to remain at home for longer.

 

Protecting our Planet and the Environment

·       Ireland’s first statutory National Mitigation Plan (NMP) was published on 19 July 2017. The Plan is an important initial step to enable the transition to a low carbon economy and society.

·       We are investing €52m per annum in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, directly targeting climate emissions of over 25,000 beef farms by improving the quality of the national herd.

·       To further incentivise the take up of electric vehicles we have proposed to introduce a 0% rate of benefit-in-kind, BIK, in 2018.

·       An economic assessment has been undertaken and a public consultation concluded to inform the final design and implementation of a Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme.

·       The Office of Public Works (OPW) is delivering a multi-annual programme of capital investment in flood defence measures, with €430 million provided for in the Capital Investment Plan 2016 to 2021.

·       The significant increase in funding for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment (total allocation of €581m) in Budget 2018 indicates our commitment to deliver a low carbon, climate resilient and sustainable future.

·       Irish Water has eliminated boil notices for 20,000 people, identified 36,000 households with possible leader contamination risks and reduced leakage by 89 million litres of water a day.

 

Security and Justice: The Party of Law and Order

·       We reopened the Garda training college in Templemore in 2014, after Fianna Fáil closed it.

·       800 new Garda recruits will commence training in 2018 and up to 500 civilians to get Gardaí out from behind desks.

·       We are also investing in Garda infrastructure and have committed to invest €330m in Garda ICT infrastructure over 2016- 2021.

·       In the period 2013 to end of 2017 almost €44 million will have been invested in the Garda fleet with some 2,000 vehicles coming on stream in that period.

·       Since the inception of the anti-crime strategy, Operation Thor, in late 2015, there has been in the region of 5,541 arrests and 6,156 charges covering a range of offences.

·       We are tackling gangland crime; in 2016 a Special Criminal Taskforce and a dedicated Garda Armed Unit were established.

·       Live training exercises have also been carried out in Dublin City Centre to demonstrate the robust Garda capability in responding to critical incidents.

·       A new round of community CCTV schemes to combat rural crime was launched in addition to investment in the Seniors Alert Scheme.