Finance and Public Expenditure
- The Universal Social Charge has been reduced for the second time by the Government –
- Incomes of €13,000 are exempt entirely
- €0 – €12,012 – 1% (Down from 1.5%)
- €12,012 – €18,668 – 3% (Down from 3.5%)
- €18,669 – €70,044 – 5.5% (Down from 7%)
- €70,045 – €100,000 – 8% (unchanged)
- Medical card holders/Over 70s with income of <€60,000 will now pay a maximum of 3%
- Minimum wage up 50c to €9.15 per hour
- ‘Earned Income Credit’ of €550 introduced for self-employed e.g. local business-owners, farmers
- 130,000 jobs have been created since the launch of Action Plan for Jobs in 2012 with 1,300 new jobs being created, on average, per week
- Retention of 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality sector
- Home Renovation Scheme extended to end 2016
- Pension Levy abolished from end December 2015
- Inheritance Tax threshold on family homes (inheritances from parents to children) increased by approx. 25% to €280,000 thus exempting the majority of homes in Galway and Mayo
- Commercial Vehicles motor tax simplified from 20 rates to 5 with maximum rate down from €5,195 to €900
Education and Children
Education – Over €8.5 billion allocated for 2016
- 2,260 new teachers – 1,650 classroom teachers and an extra 600 resource teachers
- 250 new posts to help principals and deputies
- €28.5m Minor Works Scheme for primary schools
- €17m for the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy
- Pupil Teacher Ratio reduced to 27:1 at primary level and 18.7:1 at secondary level
- New Summer Works Scheme for 2016
Children – €1.1 billion – For the first time ever the budget allocation for Dept of Children has exceeded €1 Billion
- Free Pre-School Year expanded – children to start at 3 years of age & continue until primary school – Starting dates in September, January and April
- 8,000 new Community Childcare places
- Enhanced funding for training and qualification of childcare workers
- Additional funding for after-school childcare.
- State Pensions increased by €3 per week
- €5 increase in Child Benefit
- Fuel Allowance increased to €22.50 per week
- Family Income Supplement threshold increased by €5 per week for each of first two children
- New two-week ‘Paternity Leave’ to be introduced from September next year
- Carer’s Support Grant increased by €325 to €1,700 – formerly known as Respite Care Grant
- Additional €3m to protect Free Travel Scheme
- Christmas Bonus of 75% of weekly payments (long-term schemes) to be paid in December
- New tapered PRSI Credit to benefit over 88,000 workers
- Electricity/Gas/TV Licence schemes protected.
- €1.5 billion in funding for An Garda Síochána
- Recruitment of 600 new Gardai in addition to 550 recruited since September 2014
- Budget for Crimestoppers and Community Alert including text alert schemes, doubled
- Additional funding to support victims of crime and combat domestic violence
- €1.3 million for additional staffing for Probation Service to help reduce reoffending
- Additional funding for migration measures and Irish Refugee Protection Programme.
Agriculture, Food and the Marine
- €494m investment in the Rural Development Programme – RPD schemes provide vital investment in the rural economy, prioritise agri-environmental protection and support the income of family farms
- €203m for Agri Evironmental Schemes such as AEOS and GLAS which will help farmers operate farms in an environmentally sustainable way
- €195m for ‘Areas of Natural Constraint’ which support farming families working in disadvantaged areas including additional support for farmers on off-shore islands
- Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme of €35.8m for the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme
- ‘Family Transfer Partnerships’ to assist succession which will encourage farm families to plan for the future
- Additional funding of €600,000 to bring to €2.7m the funding for voluntary animal welfare organisations.
Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Budget 2016 provides €310 million for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – a 12% increase.
Key initiatives and programmes include:
- Over €48 million for the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme which includes the development of the new visitor centre at Teach an Phiarsaigh in Ros Muc;
- Increased funding for the Arts Council and the National Cultural Institutions;
- 7% increase in current and capital spending on the Irish Language, Gaeltacht and the Islands which includes funding for Gaeltacht Support Schemes – Irish Language Support Schemes – Údarás na Gaeltachta – the Islands – the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.
Environment, Community and Local Government
Budget 2016 provides €1.49 billion for the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.
- Over 50% of the Department’s budget – €811 million – will go directly to support a range of housing programmes. Over 17,000 housing units will be delivered in 2016;
- In addition to this, €112 million funding will be provided directly to city and county councils to meet housing needs;
- An extra €17m brings to €70 million the funding to tackle homelessness;
- Funding is also being provided for a Village Renewal Scheme and a programme to help householders in addressing the issue of lead water pipes.
A substantial increase in funding of €880 million brings to over €13.1 Billion allocation for Health. Initiatives and programmes include:
- Funding for Maternity Strategy;
- Extra Ambulance service staff, permanent aeromedical emergency service, expansion of community first responders;
- Extension of free GP care to children under 12 – subject to negotiation with Irish Medical Organisation;
- Further investment in diagnostics in primary care;
- Expansion of Child Speech and Language Therapy within primary care.
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
- €68 million has been allocated for energy efficiency and renewable energy in 2016. This will see the Better Energy Programme support an estimated 2,750 jobs, and several new initiatives will boost the energy efficiency of Irish homes and businesses;
- The State intervention element of the National Broadband Plan will go to tender by the end of 2015 and a contract/contracts will be awarded by mid-2016.