Budget 2016: Main Points
- Increase in Minimum Wage from 1st January by 50c to €9.15 per hour
- USC (Universal Social Charge) rates cut and threshold raised to €13,000 – removing 700,000 from the scope of the USC
- €3 increase in State Pensions
- Pension Levy to be abolished with effect from January 2016
- 50c increase on pack of cigarettes – only tax increase in Budget 2016
- Inheritance tax threshold exemption raised from €225,000 to €280,000 – ensures majority of homes in Galway escape this tax
- Property Tax rates to remain the same until at least 2019
- New ‘Earned Income Tax Credit’ of €550 will benefit self-employed
- Retention of 9% VAT Rate for Tourism Industry
- Motor Tax Rates for Commercial Vehicles simplified from 20 rates to 5 with maximum rate down from €5,195 to €900
- NAMA to build 80 new homes per week to 2020
- €70 million to tackle homelessness in 2016 – up 56% since 2014
- Funding for an additional 600 Gardaí in 2016
- Recruitment of 2,260 new teachers will lower Pupil Teacher Ratio
- Extension of the Free Pre-School Programme from age 3 until start of primary school
- Extension of Free GP Care to all children up to 12 years of age
- Increase of Child Benefit by €5 to €140 per child
- €940 million for the Fair Deal Scheme
- €2 million to make the Emergency Aeromedical Service Permanent
Budgets over the last number of years have been tough but they made it possible for Ireland to exit the bailout, reduce our debts, and secure the recovery.
Budget 2016 contains measures which will build on the recovery and extend it to include every household in Galway and Mayo.
Measures such as the cuts to the USC, the exempting of 700,000 workers from the USC, the increase of the minimum wage to €9.15 per hour, the introduction of the new tax credit of €550 for self-employed, the increase in inheritance tax threshold and the freezing of Property Tax rates until 2019 will all help to secure and extend the recovery.
Budget 2016 is also protecting the most vulnerable in society with increases in Child Benefit, the fuel allowance, the restoration of the Respite Care Grant, the rise in thresholds for the Family Income Supplements, the 75% restoration of the Social Welfare Christmas bonus, and the increase in State Pensions of €3 per week. These measures will help raise living standards across our constituency and country.
With an election on the horizon it is important that the Opposition’s budget plans be scrutinised because the plans represent what Sinn Fein and Fianna Fáil would do if elected.
Fine Gael’s measures to cut the USC rates and increase the thresholds for USC and Inheritance tax are in stark contrast to the Opposition’s plans. Sinn Féin want a 58% top tax rate, an increase in employer’s PRSI which makes job creation more difficult and an increase in inheritance tax. With Sinn Féin there would be no USC cut for anyone earning more than €19,500.
Fianna Fáil’s budget plans show they are against the Government’s tax cuts and would prefer a top tax rate of 52%. Fianna Fáil introduced the USC in Budget 2011 hitting anyone who earned over €4,000 and their proposed changes to USC bands would not benefit anyone earning over €21,000. The Party talks about fairness but in government cut a range of social welfare payments – Carer’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, Widow’s Pension and others – not once but twice as well as abolishing the Christmas bonus.
In contrast, Fine Gael is working to secure and extend the recovery to every household with a sensible mix of tax cuts, targeted spending and increases in social protection payments.
The sensible and responsible spending in today’s budget has only been made possible by the work of the Irish people and the leadership of the Government. The Budget measures represent an investment in our country designed to secure the recovery and ensure every household in Galway, Mayo and beyond benefits.