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16/10/2021

Laois workers, families and communities to benefit from Budget claims Minister

Sean Fleming

Sean Fleming TD is Minister of State at the Department of Finance

Budget 2022 will deliver for workers, families and communities in Laois, according to Laois Offaly TD and Minister of State in the Department of Finance Seán Fleming.

The TD was speaking in the Dáil following the deliver of the tax and spending plans by Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath.

"I want to highlight many ways on how this will deliver for workers, families and communities around Ireland and also in Co Laois," said the Fianna Fáil TD.

On tax he said there will be an increase in the standard rate band by €1,500 and also an increase in the personal tax credit by €50. 

In health care he said the budget would deliver free GP care for children aged 6 and 7. He said the threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme lowered to €100.

He said €250 million has been set aside to tackle hospital waiting lists and there would be free contraception for women aged 17-25.

Another measure is the expansion of dental access to medical card patients.

He said a further 8,000 staff next year, bringing the overall number of employees in the health sector to 144,000. He said the National Ambulance Service, of which there are many valid criticisms that need to be addressed, will be increased. He added that there will be significant investment in women’s health, infection prevention and control; and advance the rollout of nursing safe staffing programmes.

Social welfare spending steps outlined by Minister Fleming included the extension of the National Childcare Scheme universal subsidy to all children aged up to 15.

He said a funding stream of €207 million for childcare is linked to a commitment of no increases in fees to parents. "This is a win for parents, children, staff and the operators of childcare facilities," said the TD. 

He said there would be €5 increase in weekly social welfare payments. He added that the Living Alone Allowance to be increased by €3.

Minister Fleming said the Fuel Allowance increased by €5, as of midnight on the 12th of October.

He added that a Youth Travel Card would be introduced for those aged 19-23.

In the area of housing he said 11,820 new social homes will be delivered through build, acquisition and leasing programmes adding that 9,000 of these will be new build homes.

He said 11,000 grants are approved to adapt the homes of older people and people with a disability.

He said 14,800 new households would have their housing needs met under the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme, in addition to supporting almost 82,000 existing tenancies under these schemes.

On the education and training front Minister Fleming said there would be 1,165 additional SNA's, bringing the total number of SNA's to almost 19,200.

He said the largest-ever increase in funding for the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme, would provide €32 million next year, enabling an expansion in 2022 of the programme to further schools. 

Minister Fleming said an additional 350 teachers to reduce school staffing schedules by 1 point for all primary schools.

He added that the distance to qualify for the non-adjacent grant for higher education has been reduced from 45km to 30km.

He said this will be a welcome improvement for many people in Co Laois who attend Carlow IT. Up to now, he said many people were excluded from this grant but with these changes will now be eligible for this additional support. 

The Fianna Fáil Minister said 980 additional special education teachers working in special classes, special schools and mainstream settings to support children with special educational needs.

He added that there would be off-the-job training places for 7,000 craft apprentices impacted by COVID-19.

He said a €200 increase in the maintenance grant payment in the Student Support Scheme (SUSI).

Another measure higlighted was the recruitment of up to 800 new trainee Gardaí and 400 Garda staff.

He said every single Euro raised by the increase in Carbon Tax will be returned to the people of Ireland in a progressive manner, primarily through the increase in the fuel allowance and a major home retrofitting programme.  

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