BUDGET 2017 – OVERVIEW
Budget 2017 is about protecting the economy and making people’s lives a little better. It’s thanks to the careful economic management of recent years that we now have the resources to target investments in key public services that will make a real difference to people’s lives.
It is the first of three budgets designed to do this.
The measures to improve people’s lives, specifically for hard pressed working families, involve investment in public services, meaning more teachers, nurses and Gardaí.
At the core of Budget 2017 is continued responsible management of the public finances. Gains we have made as a country are hard won and fragile, esp. in the context of Brexit.
A Sensible Budget, Strengthening the Economy post Brexit
Brexit represents a serious challenge to the Irish economy still recovering from recession, because of our deep trade linkages to both the UK and the EU.
This is a sensible budget to protect the economy in uncertain times. We are staying within our spending rules. Our deficit will be reduced to 0.4% of GDP in 2017 and the Budget is delivered within the available fiscal space.
It helps Irish business impacted by Brexit: new resources for enterprise agencies; an agri-food package of measures; 9% tourism VAT rate retained.
It helps attract more businesses to Ireland: resources for the regional action plan for jobs; USC cuts reducing high rates of tax; moving towards equal tax treatment for self-employed.
Balanced regional development & job creation: National Broadband Plan, Rural Development Programme, Seafood Development Programme, Town & Village Regeneration.
A Budget for Children & Families
Reducing the USC will ease the financial pressure on hard pressed families and workers, sharing with them some of the benefits of our return to economic growth.
It introduces a new ‘Single Affordable Childcare Scheme’, from September 2017, which provides both universal and targeted subsidies towards the cost of childcare.
An extra 2,400 teaching posts in schools, including 900 extra resource teachers.
Increased funding for Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance, and School Meals Scheme.
Increased medical card coverage to all children in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Increased funding for Tusla, including number of social workers to aid vulnerable children.
Protecting the Elderly and Vulnerable
A €5 increase in the weekly pension, recognising the contributions of the elderly, in March.
€30m health package for older people including additional home care packages, transitional care beds, community intervention teams & additional acute beds.
A decrease in the prescription charge cap for over 70s to €20 p.w. from €25.
A €5 p.w. increase in weekly social welfare payments, including carers’ allowance, unemployment assistance (JB&JA), disability allowance, and one parent family payment.
An 85% Christmas bonus for qualifying social welfare recipients in 2016.
A Housing Package, making Homes more Affordable
A €200m Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to remove infrastructure blockages to large housing developments and so deliver additional supply of social and private housing.
A ‘Help-to-Buy’ scheme for first-time-buyers worth 5% of the price of a new build home, with a cap of €20,000.
A 5% increase in tax relief for landlords in 2017, to encourage investment in rental sector. This moves it to 80% ‘mortgage interest deductibility’, with a plan to restore it to 100%.
Increased ‘rent a room’ scheme income ceiling to €14,000, to ease pressure on rents.
€105m extra for Housing Assistance Payment Scheme, benefitting 15,000 families.
Better Public Services, improving Ordinary Lives
The significant majority of new resources have been given to improving public services.
Health — largest health budget ever, including €15m for a National Treatment Purchase Fund, funding for 80 additional primary care centres, funding for emergency departments.
Education — €36.5m new funding for third-level education, the 1st investment since the bust.
Justice — 800 new Gardaí in 2017, after 600 this year, and 500 more civilian staff, all to increase total numbers to 15,000.
Rural — increase in the Rural Development Programme of €107m, to €601m in 2017. This includes €25m for a new Animal Welfare Scheme for Sheep.
Rural — €44m for flood relief schemes, including major schemes for Cork and Enniscorthy.