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Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

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  2 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe] The 2019 capital allocation of €220 million includes construction of the forensic science laboratory; investment in Garda ICT and the purchase of Garda vehicles; and works on Limerick Prison.


  In the defence sector, €29 million will be provided for additional major investment projects for next year.

  This will fund a programme of equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.

  These investments will make a significant contribution to the security of our nation as well as the expansion of Ireland's international presence.


  As part of our Brexit strategy, we are opening new markets for our businesses and promoting our international profile through our Global Ireland 2025 strategy, all of which aim to double Ireland's global footprint.

  Investing in our international presence in this way will enable Ireland to be more ambitious in advancing our strategic international objectives, promoting our values and exerting our influence, both within and beyond the European Union.

  The strategy has already realised significant commitments, including the opening a new embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, and a new consulate in Vancouver, Canada, as well as strengthening existing missions.

  In addition, today's budget also includes the most significant increase in our international development co-operation budget for many years, with our overseas aid set to increase by almost €110 million in comparison with figures in budget 2018.

  This brings our overseas development assistance to its highest level in decades. At 0.31% of GNI*, this level of assistance represents a clear statement that this Government and the Irish people will not be found wanting in addressing some of the major humanitarian crises and development challenges that our planet faces.


  Investment in sport remains a priority and I am committing €126 million across a range of sporting initiatives next year.

  Our continued spending in sport means that we are making progress towards doubling our investment in this key area, a commitment of our national sports policy.

  I am providing over €41 million next year for investment in sports projects to benefit clubs and organisations in every county in Ireland.

  I am retaining the 9% VAT rate for sporting facilities.


  To the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I am allocating an additional €15 million in current funding and €21 million in capital funding.

  This increased funding is tangible evidence of the importance attached to our cultural and creative heritage under Project Ireland 2040. This will put spending in that sector on a trajectory that will see funding doubled by 2025.

  It will facilitate the planning and early-stage implementation of the Department's ten-year capital plan; increase support for arts and artists via the Arts Council and Creative Ireland; and provide additional restoration and development works across our built and natural heritage portfolios.


  I am pleased to announce an additional €127 million for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs next year. This funding will facilitate our children and young people in reaching their potential. It will support the protection of our most vulnerable children and will assist hard-pressed families in accessing childcare.

  Funding for Tusla will increase by over €30 million to just over €786 million, while funding for early learning and childcare will increase by just under €90 million to €574 million. Acknowledging the importance of early intervention in the lives of children, this funding supports the ECCE preschool programme and the ongoing development of the affordable childcare scheme.

  I am also pleased to announce that the income thresholds for the affordable childcare scheme will increase next year. In net terms, the base income threshold is being raised from €22,700 to €26,000; the maximum income threshold will go from €47,500 to €60,000; and the multiple child deduction will increase from €3,800 to €4,300.

  This scheme makes a real difference to the lives of thousands of families and their children not only in terms of accessing childcare but also in terms of encouraging people back into the workplace.


  Turning to work, the income tax system has been transformed since 2008. It is now broadly based and stable and I am committed to ensuring this remains the case. I will not be drawn into unrealistic promises that risk repeating past mistakes and undermining the stability of tax receipts.

  Instead, I will continue to make targeted changes to the income tax code within available resources to reduce the tax burden on low and middle-income earners.


  This Government believes that workers enter the higher rate of income tax at too low a level of income. We cannot hope to remain competitive if someone who is on a relatively low income and works overtime has nearly half that extra money taken in tax.

  To ease the burden facing low and middle-income earners, I am again increasing the entry point to the higher rate of income tax for all earners by €750, raising it from €34,550 to €35,300 in the case of a single worker.

  I will also be reducing the third rate of the universal social charge, USC, from 4.75% to 4.5% to give further targeted benefit to low and middle-level incomes.

  The impact of these changes means that the top marginal rate on incomes up to €70,000 will be reduced to 48.5%, and fewer people on incomes around the national average will have any income subject to the 40% rate of income tax.

  I am making some modest changes to give a particular support to minimum wage workers, all of which will take place from 1 January next year: the hourly minimum wage will be increased to €9.80 following the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission; the ceiling of the second USC rate band will be increased from €19,372 to €19,874 to ensure that the salary of a full-time worker on the minimum wage will remain outside the top rates of USC; and the weekly threshold for the higher rate of employer's PRSI will be increased from €376 to €386 to ensure there is no incentive to reduce working hours for a full-time minimum wage worker.

  Other targeted measures are being introduced to help working families and the self-employed.

  For the 80,000 families with one spouse working primarily in the home to care for children or other dependants, I am happy to announce an increase to the home carer credit of €30,000. It is €300. Excuse me. An increase of €30,000 would have been a bit too much for one budget. The increase brings the value of the credit to €1,500 per year.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath What happened the grannies?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe For the 150,000 self-employed workers who make up an important part of our economy, the earned income credit will be increased by a further €200 to €1,350.

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