Budget 2015: Live

Budget 2015: Live

Latest:200 new gardaí, 1,700 new classroom posts: Budget 2015 marks end of recruitment embargo

Ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin delivered Budget 2015 to the Dáil this afternoon.

Among the measures anounced were a reduction in the top level of income tax, relief for those paying water charges, and an increase in the USC threshold.

Main Points Summary:

So, with the close of both speeches, here's what we know:

TAX:

• Top income tax reduced from 41% to 40%. Entry level for the top rate to tax increased by €1,000 to €33,800.

• USC - entry point brought up to €12,000; the 2% rate is reduced to 1.5% and the 4% rate is reduced to 3.5%.

• Two new USC rates - 8% on income over €70k and 11% on income over €100k.

EXCISE, TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL:

• Cigarettes up 40c per pack, popular brands will cost €10 / pack. Roll-your own tobacco up 20c a pack.

• No increase in alcohol tax, or fuel.

WATER CHARGES

• Water charges relief at 20% should be worth €100.

CORPORATION TAX:

• 'Double Irish' tax loophole to be closed - companies here will also have to be tax-resident in Ireland.

• 12.5% corporation tax rate is "not for discussion".

SOCIAL PROTECTION:

• No cuts in social welfare for the first time since 2009.

• Child benefit up by €5 per child, will increase by another €5 next year.

• Living Alone Allowance for elderly up to €9 per week.

• Christmas bonus for welfare will begin again this year, at 25% extra.

EDUCATION:

• 1,700 new education jobs - 920 mainstream teachers, 480 resource teachers, and 365 Special Needs Assistants.

Previous live updates:

15:59: Funding of €2.2bn in Justice will likely allow for recruitment of new Gardaí.

15:48:

Enda Kenny's budget message has been released online by the Government Information Service.

"I know that the last three budgets were very hard for you and your families. But they were part of the plan to get Ireland back on track and to get our people back to work, and that plan is working," he said.

"I know that for many of you watching tonight, Ireland's recovery is still a headline, something you have yet to feel in your life day to day."

"We will never repeat the economic mistakes of the past, because we know how precious the hard-won recovery is."

"Like you, the Government is impatient for full employment - when we achieve that, we will mind it … that's my commitment to you."

15:45: REACTION FROM THE DÁIL:

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath accuses the Government of borrowing money to buy votes. He says that the small reduction in tax will leave households worse off after they pay water charges.

He begins to read out calculations of how this budget will affect sample households. Says the approach is "fundamentally unfair".

He says the talk of benefitting low and middle income earners - "you wouldn't get that propaganda in North Korea." And he warns the Government that though they might think it, "you're not invincible."

15:42: Howlin ends his speech to applause from his deputies.

15:41: Civil Service recruitment: No further cuts to public employment numbers, and an end to public service recruitment freeze "but in a targeted" manner.

15:38: €600m for Development Assistance humanitarian fund; €10m annually "to support the Palestinian people".

Increased budget of €212m for Arts, Heritage and the Gaelteacht, plus €61m for capital expenditure related to that department.

15:34: €42m more for Department of Justice to strengthen GSOC and new policing authority. €975m for Tulsa, the Child and Family agency.

15:31: HEALTH - €3bn for supports for older persons and disability services. €2.3bn for prescription drug provision.

EDUCATION: No reduction in teachers or Special Needs Assistants, or increase in class sizes.

1,700 education posts:

• 920 teachers,

• 480 resource teachers

• 365 SNAs

15:30 Water allowance of €100 will apply to every home on the winter fuel allowance.

15:25: SOCIAL PROTECTION

"Economic recovery without social recovery is not an end in itself" - Howlin announces €19.4bn budget for social protection - no cuts this year, the first time since 2009.

""These are the first increases to be applied to social welfare since 2009, when the economy was collapsed by the previous administration," he said, in response to heckling from the other side of the House.

Child benefit: increase by €5 per child, and will be increased by the same amount in 2016 too.

Living Alone Allowance for the elderly increased to €9 per week.

Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients to be restored to an extra 25%, starting this Christmas.

15:23: Howlin reminds us that unemployment expected to fall to 10.2% to 2015, now at pre-boom levels.

€1.6bn to support work training places in Pathway to Work Scheme. €12m for JobPath programme. 6,000 positions (double current) for the long-term unemployed on JobsPlus scheme.

15:22: €10m in funding for homeless services, brining total to €55.5m in 2015.

15:17 Social housing - "a considerable increase in Exchequer investment" of €2.2bn for social housing in next three years.

• €1.5bn directly invested by 2017;

• €300m in public-private partnerships;

• Off-balance sheet fund of €400m to housing bodies in the voluntary sector.

That's 2,500 units in 2015 and 6,700 by 2017.

Howlin believes all housing measures will result in 8,000 units by 2018.

15:14: Gross expenditure in 2015 just over €50bn - an increase in €429m from 2014. Key areas will include justice and housing.

An increase in €210m in capital spending (infrastructure etc) - total of more than 3.5bn, to increase over next two years.

In total, that's €639m more than 2014.

15:12 Howlin: "We committed to bringing our deficit of under 3% … today we honour that commitment."

"As a Government, we have never believed in austerity for austerity's sake. I do not believe that further cuts are necessary."

15:11: Brendan Howlin immediately begins public expenditure speech. "we are now in a position to increase expenditure responsibly". Opening minute takes a swipe at Fianna Fáil as the cause of the problem.

15:11 Noonan commends the Budget to the House, to applause.

15:08 "We've travelled a long road to get here … we are now at a very important crossroads.

"Do we return to the past [and] pursue boom and bust policies?" Noonan quotes Robert Frost's The Road Less Travelled - "Two road diverged in a yellow wood…" saying the boom-and-bust model is the one most frequently chosen by Irish Governments.

15:06: Cigarettes up by 40c a pack. €10 per pack for the most popular packs. Tobacco packets up 20c.

NO increase on alcohol or fuel.

Revenue-raising measures will bring €167m a year to the exchequer.

Heckling from the far side of the house - Ceann Comhairle asks why they're always the same voices.

Noonan says there will be no other tax increases, as everything will be funded by economic recovery.

15:04: Part time worker on €12,000 will have no tax or USC to pay; a working family with three children and combined income of €100,000 will have €100 / month extra.

14:59: INCOME TAX:

Increasing the entry point for the USC to €12,000 removing 80,000 people form the charge entirely.

Reducing the 2% rate to 1.5%; reducing the 4% rate to 3.5%.

A new 8% USC rate on income above €70,000; new 11% rate on income above €100,000.

Top rate of income tax to be cut from 41% to 40%. Income Tax Standard Rate Band to increase by €1,000 to €33,800 for a single person.

14:56: Water Charges Relief at standard rate (20%) for all households - should be worth up to €100 a year to households, claimed the following year.

14:55: A refund of DIRT on savings used to buy a home for First Time Buyers from tonight until the end of 2017 (maximum of 20% of the purchase price). He says this will help first-time buyers to save for their homes.

"No return to the past" on tax incentives for property developers - steps to be taken on those who do not develop land.

A public consultation and may decide to penalise landowners who do not develop land that is zoned and serviced.

14:53: Removing Capital Gains Tax incentive for the purchase of property. "has achieved its objective and is no longer needed."

Home Renovation scheme will be extended to rental properties. Scheme applies to work completed before end of 2015.

14:50: Housing - strong demand, particularly in Dublin. Noonan says the State cannot subsidise private building.

Home Renovation Incentive Scheme to be extended to rental properties whose owners are liable to income tax from tonight until the end of 2015

Says he expects savings here to be passed on in lower rents.

Noonan says social housing will be dealt with In Brendan Howlin's speech.

14:49 Retaining the 9% VAT rate for the tourism industry, which he says has been a great success.

0.6% pension levy has been scrapped, but the 0.15% add-on introduced last year will remain in 2015.

14:48: Film sector - Noonan cites tourism as an added benefit. Tax credit scheme for the country will go ahead in 2015, and, if possible, the €50m cap will be expanded.

14:47: Marine sector will have a revised tax regime, which has been prepared, and will examine strategic measures that could help the sector.

14:45: €6m a year for horse and greyhound racing, for the next three years.

Noonan is suffering from a cough while he delivers his speech.

14:42: Farming - increase on income tax exemption thresholds of 50%.

New threshold for leases of 15 years and over, and the removing 40 years of age cap for leasing relief.

Removing stamp duty from agricultural leases over 5 years, and for transfers between close relatives.

14:40: "Knowledge development box" will be an intellectual property legislation designed to attract foreign direct investment.

"Schemes that exploit the mismatches in tax … will come to an end over time.

"I am abolishing the ability of companies to use the double Irish [tax loophole]."

Noonan says all companies resident in Ireland will have to be tax-resident here - from 2015 for all new companies and 2020 for existing companies.

International financial services - a new strategy is being developed.

14:37: Noonan says he will continue to protect the 12.5% corporate tax rate, which will not change, and he says it is not up for discussion.

14:34: "Prudent and responsible budgeting has got us to this point, and prudent and responsible budgeting is how we will continue."

Noonan announces he is targeting a budget deficit of 2.7% next year, once again below the 3% target.

14:30: Noonan has begun his speech. He says the Government will not be returning to the boom and boost economy model of the past.

He begins by delivering some key figures: reduction in unemployment figures, seven consecutive quarters of growth, and positive forecasts.

He says they expect unemployment to fall to 10% in the near future, and a GDP growth of 4.7% this year, continuing at over 3% for the next three years. He says the Government will have two million people back at work by 2016.

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