· Budget 2017 makes a significant investment in childcare to make it more affordable for hard pressed families
· A two pronged approach:
o Universal approach: Parents of a child between 6 and 36 months in full time formal child care will receive support to the value of €960 per year.
o Targeted approach: There will also be a targeted subsidy scheme for low to middle income parents with children between 6 months and 15 years.
o Builds on what we have done already: last month we rolled out a second free year of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) and introduced two weeks of paternity leave.
· Budget 2017 funds measures in the Government’s Housing Plan ‘Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’
· A ‘help to buy’ scheme will help first time buyers get on the property ladder and increase the supply of housing
o A rebate of income tax paid over the previous four tax years up to 5% of the purchase price of a new home up to a value of €400,000
o Pro-rata rates will apply to houses in excess of €400,000 and up to €600,000
o There will be no tax rebate on house purchases in excess of €600,000.
o The maximum tax rebate available to first-time buyers will be €20,000.
Decreasing the tax burden
· Budget 2017 continues the process to reduce the tax burden on hard pressed families, reducing further the high rates of personal income taxes through another step in the phasing out of the USC
· Each of the lower three USC rates are being reduced by 0.5%.
· Reducing the USC will ease the financial pressure on lower and middle income earners, sharing with them some of the benefits of our return to economic growth.
· Tax cuts increase the numbers returning to work which is good for the economy.
· All weekly social welfare payments, including the State Pension, the carer’s allowance, disability allowance and jobseeker’s benefit and allowance will rise by €5 per week from March
· 85% Christmas bonus for Social Welfare recipients entitled to the Christmas bonus
· Increased spending of €497 million for health bringing total spending to €14.6 billion
· With this increase in spending, comes huge responsibility. The Government will continue to work in the months and years to ensure that the twin track agenda of better care and better accountability is delivered.
· Medical cards to be extended to all children in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance
· The €25 cap on prescription charges for those over 70 will be reduced to €20 from 1 March.
· €15m is allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to reduce waiting lists
· Increase in education spending of €458m to fund recruitment programmes, including an additional 2,400 teaching posts, of which 900 will be resource teachers.
· Increase of €36.5m in funding for higher and further education.
· Allocation of an additional €28 million for An Garda Síochána, as part of a total package of measures of €68 million, bringing total funding for the Justice and Equality area to over €2.5 billion.
· 800 new Gardaí to be hired and trained next year
· We intend to recruit 3,200 Gardaí over the next four years to bring the strength of the force up to 15,000. That is in addition to the 1,200 that will have been recruited by the end of this year, since the reopening of Templemore.
Self-employed/ small business
Earned income tax credit
· A €400 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit will bring the credit for the self-employed to €950
· This is a further step along the road to equalising the tax treatment of self-employed workers with PAYE earners begun by Fine Gael in the last Budget
· This will help self-employed people and small business owners to create more jobs. Only a strong economy supporting people at work can pay for the services needed to create a fair society.
Start Your Own Business
· Extending the Start Your Own Business scheme for a further two years. Its continuation will be of real benefit in providing support to long term unemployed persons who wish to create new businesses
Responding to Brexit
· Budget 2017 includes more initiatives to help the self-employed and our small businesses to counter the effects of Brexit (see note below)
Responding to challenges of Brexit
· Helping Irish businesses impacted by Brexit volatility, those who export to the UK and helping others diversify into new markets:
o New resources for our enterprise agencies to put more people on the ground in foreign markets to help Irish businesses;
o New schemes related to risk sharing under development;
o An agri-food package of measures;
o Maintaining our strong support for the tourism sector.
· Helping attract more businesses into Ireland:
o Resources provided to deliver on the regional action plan for jobs in relation to advance facilities and regional enterprise funding;
o Reducing further the high rates of personal income taxes through another step in the phasing out of the USC;
o Extending and revising tax schemes related to attracting in high value foreign employees;
o Another step in increasing the Earned Income Credit to benefit approximately 150,000 self employed taxpayers;
o Extension of more social benefits to the self employed;
o Changes to the tax regime to make Ireland more attractive to start up entrepreneurs;
· Balanced Regional Development & Job creation
o Advancing the National Broadband Plan, Rural Development Programme and the Seafood Development Programme;
o Boosted resources for Town and Village Regeneration.
o Additional supports for sheep flock owners.
Regional and Rural Development Package
· Substantial funding in Budget 2017 to help create jobs and attract investment to rural Ireland.
· An Action Plan for Rural Development will be published shortly. This will act as an overarching structure for the co-ordination and implementation of initiatives across Government to support economic and social progress in rural Ireland.
· Further details on National Rural Development Schemes to follow
· Expenditure of €319 million on regional and local roads, throughout our country
· Funding to provide for the opening of LUAS cross city by the end of next year; and
· Continued roll out of improvements and construction of national roads projects including three major PPP projects like Gort to Tuam, Gorey to Enniscorthy and the New Ross By-Pass.
· The maintenance of the 9% VAT on tourism related businesses, many in rural Ireland.
· There will be a new round of the Sports Capital Programme in 2017 and the Ministers at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will announce the details of the new programme in due course.