Budget 2020 protects our country from the worst of a No Deal Brexit, protects our environment with sensible climate action measures and provides targeted investment to support families and communities across Galway and the West. It has been prepared to protect our country from a No Deal Brexit, protect our communities and support families through targeted investment in schools, hospitals, housing and transport, and protect the environment with sensible measures to tackle climate change.
Budget 2020 has a €1 billion No Deal Brexit package to help farm families, local businesses and the tourism sector to combat the impact of a No Deal Brexit. While we want a deal if a No Deal happens, we will intervene to further protect our economy.
In the event of a No Deal, some €650 million will be made available to support the Agriculture, Enterprise and Tourism sectors and to assist the most affected citizens and regions. This includes €110 million in funding, including ring-fenced funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta, for businesses that are vulnerable but viable, €110 million in assistance through the Department of Agriculture and €365 million for extra Social Protection measures with a focus on protecting jobs and helping people into new employment when necessary.
However, Budget 2020 is about more than just Brexit. It provides for a 10 per cent increase in investment in schools, houses, hospitals, roads and public transport. In education, for example, the Budget provides for 150 new mainstream teaching, over 400 additional teaching posts to support those with special educational needs and over 1,000 additional Special Needs Assistants (SNAs).
Meanwhile, funding for early learning and childcare will increase by a significant €54 million supporting the introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme alongside the new two weeks’ paid parental leave.
Budget 2020 will support families of different types and ages across Galway and the West through measures such as the increase in the Living Alone Allowance (up €5), the increase in the Fuel Allowance (up €2 per week), the broadening of the Household Benefit Package, the increase in the Home Carer Tax Credit from €1,500 to €1,600, the expansion of free GP care to children under 8 from next September and also free dental care for children under 6, the increase in the Medical Card income threshold for people over 70 and the reduction in the monthly threshold in the Drugs Payment Scheme.
Tackling climate change is also a feature of Budget 2020 with sensible and responsible measures to help people plan and change over time. The measures include free energy upgrades to homes, investment in more greenways and cycling facilities, the installation of more electric vehicle charging points as well as specific funding to help ensure a just and fair transition to a low-carbon economy and society.
Budget 2020 has been prepared to sustainably manage the economy, invest in a low carbon economy and protect households across the country in the face of Brexit, one of the most serious threats to our country. As Chief Whip I look forward to working with colleagues to legislate for these measures in the Dáil for the benefit of people, not just in Galway but across the country.