Budget backed by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan
Fine Gael is working to reduce the cost of living and Budget 2022 contains the measures to do it, Laois/Offaly TD, Charlie Flanagan has said.
The party's TD was speaking Leinster House after Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath outlined the measures in the budget speeches.
Dep Flanagan fully endorsed what they had to say.
“Budget 2022 will help to recover our economy from the pandemic, repair our public finances and restore our public services. Fine Gael in Government has prioritised reducing the cost of living in order to provide support for people at a time of rising prices. Budget 2022 contains measures to do just that.
“Every person paying income tax will receive a tax benefit thanks to a total budget package of €520 million. The standard rate band is increasing by €1,500 and we are increasing each of the personal tax, employee tax and earned income credits by €50," he said.
Dep Flanagan highlight what it will do for business.
“For several Budgets now, Fine Gael has prioritised supports for small businesses and entrepreneurs; we recognise they are crucial to job creation and the development of our local economy across Laois & Offaly. Supporting entrepreneurs and the wider business community will be central to our broader national recovery from the pandemic, and so there is a significant package for them in Budget 202.
“The Employment Investment Incentive (EII) scheme is being extended for a further three years and will also be opened up to a wider range of investment funds. There is a further €30m of investment in the Innovation Equity Fund. There will be an extension of corporation tax relief to certain start-up companies and a new tax credit for the digital gaming sector," he said.
The Laois based TD also spoke about how it helps the less well off.
“Welfare payments are increasing and there will be a 100% Christmas bonus in 2021. The Old Age Pension will increase by €5 per week and the Living Alone Allowance will increase by €3 per week. The duration of Parent’s Benefit will increase by 2 weeks to 7 weeks from July next year, and from June next year, the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance will increase by €10, equalising the income thresholds for the allowance for one and two parent households and increasing the income threshold for the Working Family Payment by €10 for all families. We are increasing the income disregard for Carer's Allowance from €332.50 to €350 for a single person and from €665 to €750 for a couple.
“The minimum wage will increase by 30c to €10.50 in January, the eighth consecutive increase to the minimum wage under Fine Gael in Government. In tandem with this, we will increase the ceiling of the second USC band to ensure the increase in the minimum wage won’t push people into higher rates of USC," he said.
He commented on the supports for families who need help to cover the costs of childcare.
“Fine Gael is prioritising reducing childcare costs and we recently produced a report proposing a major re-prioritisation of early childhood in our national ambitions, with a need for increased focus on well-being in early childhood. Budget 2022 reflects this with a new funding stream for up to 4,700 early years and childcare providers which will be in place from September 2022 onwards, at an estimated cost of €69 million next year. This will support improvements in the quality of childcare provision, and will be linked to a commitment of no increases in fees to parents," he said.
He pointed to new help in education.
“Next year, we will spend in excess of €2 billion, or over 25% of the Education budget on providing additional teaching and care supports for children with special educational needs. This represents an increase of over 50% since 2011 and it will include an unprecedented 1165 new SNAs, bringing the total number of SNAs in Ireland to a record of 19,169. We are also adding 980 new teachers in special education in mainstream schools, special classes and special schools, and we will open over 1,700 new special class places next year.
Healthcare would also see an injection of help said the TD.
“Addressing medical waiting lists is a huge priority for Government and €250 million has been allocated to address this challenge, further to the Acute Waiting List Action Plan. We are extending free GP care to children aged 6 and 7 next year, with the intention of reaching all children under 12 with this Fine Gael led policy," he said.
Dep Flanagan also pointed to ways that the Government is compensation people for higher energy bills.
“The government is acutely aware of the impact on households of increasing energy costs. To directly address this, we are increasing the weekly rate of the Fuel Allowance by €5 and increasing to €120 the amount of means allowed above the maximum State Pension (Contributory) rate for the Fuel Allowance means test. The qualifying period on jobseekers allowance and supplementary welfare allowance will be reduced from 15 to 12 months," he said.
He said the Carbon Tax would be reinvested.
“As part of a comprehensive Climate Action package in Budget 2022, we are extending the €5,000 relief for Battery Electric Vehicles to the end of 2023, to continue to incentivise the uptake of electric vehicles. Every single euro raised by the increase in Carbon Tax will be returned to the people of Ireland in a progressive manner. There is an additional €174 million for energy efficiency and to protect the most vulnerable in society," he said.
The TD backed measures for farmers.
“There is a comprehensive €1.85 billion agriculture package, an increase of €32 million on last year. This will maintain critical supports across the sector while also providing for a number of new measures, including: providing for a second phase of the soil sampling programme in 2022; fully establishing the Food Ombudsman; and delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to double ex-gratia funding for Animal Welfare Organisations by 2022. Key farm schemes will be rolled over for a further year to a value of €630m ahead of the start of the new CAP in 2023," he said.
He said there is help for those working at home.
“One positive legacy of the pandemic is that remote and flexible working has becoming commonplace, something Fine Gael has been campaigning for quite some time. Budget 2022 provides an income tax deduction amounting to 30 per cent of the cost of vouched expenses for heat, electricity, and broadband in respect of those incurred while working from home.
Dep Flanagan said housing would also be boosted by the Budget.
“As part of a range of housing measures announced in Budget 2022, we are extending the Help to Buy Scheme, which has already helped over 28,300 people to buy their first home," he said.
Policing would also be better placed he added.
“Budget 2022 will fund the recruitment of 800 new gardaí, 400 garda civilian staff to free up gardaí for front line policing, and a 20% increase in the Garda Mountain Bike Unit. This will help to protect communities in Laois & Offaly and keep them safe," he said.
Concluding Deputy Flanagan said the Government has already show how it has helped people and will continue to do so.
“Government gave unparalleled support to people and businesses during the pandemic, through the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), approximately €17 ½ billion has been directed to individuals, families and businesses. The continuation of these supports while people need them is important, but Budget 2022 also helps bring us to a new phase where we will recover our economy from the pandemic, repair our public finances and restore our public services. Fine Gael is committed to reducing the cost of living for all as part of that”, he said.
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