The Tax Institute of Ireland has welcomed support offered to Irish businesses and agrees with the Finance Minister's decision to direct resources to sectors most vulnerable to risk of no-deal Brexit.
However, it said it is surprised the Minister has decided not to increase the lifetime limit on CGT relief for entrepreneurs: "With Brexit fast approaching, we need to be strongly placed to compete for international capital.
"The failure to raise the €1million limit leaves us exposed at a critical time for Irish business,” said President of the Institute, Frank Mitchell.
He continued: "Making our SMEs stronger and more profitable is the way forward for our economy, according to the IMF, the OECD and the European Commission. Today’s announcements go some way to achieving that goal.”
Screen Ireland has welcomed an increase in funding of €1 million to Screen Ireland, bringing the agency's annual capital budget to €17.2 million per year.
Screen Ireland Chair Dr. Annie Doona said it appreciates the Government’s "consistent support for the Irish creative screen industries, recognising the cultural value of Irish storytelling on screen".
“This additional funding together with the introduction of the regional uplift to Section 481 of 5%, announced last year, is an example of successful government policy, in terms of attracting new productions to regional areas. The uplift has allowed Screen Ireland to work with regional stakeholders to develop training opportunities and enhance skills, supporting production activity in these areas.
She added: "Last year, Screen Ireland established a new TV drama production fund aimed at supporting high-end episodic TV drama with the potential to sell internationally to audiences across the globe. New projects emerging from this fund include Normal People, The South Westerlies and a slate of pilot TV comedies in partnership with RTÉ."
Over the past ten years, Irish creative screen industries have secured 30 Academy Award nominations.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said the government's policing reform plan looks like it is being built on quicksand following today's budget allocation of €81 million for An Garda Síochána.
GRA president Jim Mulligan said the sum will have to be spread so thinly it is difficult to see how it will meet the plans that have been announced for policing reform.
“Gardai are apparently supposed to operate a pro-arrest approach to street violence, implement a new operating model with more specialist units and police the growing level of criminality on the border and elsewhere against a backdrop of an overtime ban.
“All of this will need to come from the €81 million as well as the €15 – €18m taken this year from the Garda budget to pay for the visits of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
"The arithmetic does not look good at all. So, this is yet another dent to our confidence in the government’s intention to reform policing.
Disability Federation of Ireland, Rehab Group, Central Remedial Clinic, Irish Wheelchair Association, Aontas and Inclusion Ireland have expressed disappointment the Rehabilitative Training Allowance has not been reinstated.
The withdrawal of the €31.80 per week has prevented people with few other options open to them from starting such a course, according to Rehab group.
Joan Carthy, spokesperson for the group, said: "This cruel cut is targeted at people who have already overcome significant disadvantage throughout their lives.
“The overall saving to Government of the cut this year is just €250,000, a minimal amount and yet it is a vital lifeline to those who need specialist supports to access further education or to enter the workforce.
“If people are prevented from accessing such training it will ultimately cost the State more down the line. Very little has changed since Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last year. This decision indicates that the Government remains selectively blind to the true cost of disability in Ireland.”
Inclusion Ireland CEO Enda Egan said: "Government had an opportunity to take action in Budget 2020 to promote rights and equality for people with disabilities and to advance Ireland’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Unfortunately, there is little in this budget that will create any real change for people with disabilities”.
The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has called the budget's investment in students with special education requirements "positive".
Director of the NAPD, Clive Byrne said that along with the €1.9 billion in funding, and "the provision for an increase of 1,000 special needs assistant (SNA) posts and an additional 400 teaching posts for students with special education needs can only be viewed as a positive development that will be felt across the entire classroom."
He added: "It is crucial that we prioritise the training and recruitment of teachers for subjects that many of our schools are currently struggling to teach. A shortage of qualified Physical Education graduates, in addition to inconsistent sports infrastructure, continues to undermine the national rolling out of P.E. as a Leaving Certificate subject."
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has criticised the budget for not reversing the tourism VAT hike which came into effect last year.
President of the IHF Michael Lennon said the increase from 9% to 13.5% seriously undermined Ireland's competitiveness internationally.
He said: "Our industry has been one of the great success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting 270,000 jobs and promoting balanced regional growth across the country. It is therefore disappointing that the Government has failed to recognise the exceptional challenges now confronting tourism businesses."
He added: "We are now in a situation where we have a higher rate of tourism VAT than 27 European countries with which we compete. Add to this the challenges around Brexit and the 27% drop in the value of Sterling in recent years and you have a perfect storm.”
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has criticised the budget for failing to fund long-term systematic improvements to the service- in particular the major funding need to implement the Sláintecare reform plan.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “We’ve been bandaging up the health service for far too long. It needs long-term, systemic change, but that comes with an upfront cost.
"We now need to lift the HSE’s disastrous recruitment pause, if we are to make any dent in the hospital overcrowding crisis. There are over 1,300 unfilled nursing and midwifery vacancies in the public health service.”
Head of Drinks Ireland | Beer Jonathan McDade said he welcomes the increase in the excise relief production ceiling for microbrewers which increased from 40,000 to 50,000 hectolitres per year.
Head of Drinks Ireland | Spirits, Vincent McGovern said: "These changes, which result in the full income tax relief being provided in the year of investment, the annual investment limit for the incentive being increased to €250,000 and in particular providing for a new €500,000 annual investment limit for those investors who are prepared to invest in the scheme for ten years or more are welcome.
The Simon Community has said that the housing crisis has been eclipsed by a possible Brexit crisis in budget 2020. Head of Policy and Communications Wayne Stanley said that commitments to Rebuilding Ireland is welcomed but is not enough to address to homelessness, which is continuing to rise.
“Our housing system is broken and structural change is required. While measures such as the help-to-buy commitment and a credit union funding vehicle for Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are to be welcomed, we call on the Government to urgently move to a more innovative government-led cost rental model: quality, affordable housing built by the State using low cost loans."
Threshold said that "of the extra €20 million allocated to homeless services", Thresholds believes that the majority will go to hoteliers and private accommodation providers and will do little to keep people in their homes.
Head of Communications at Inner City Helping Homeless John-Mark McCaffery said: "We badly need additional funding to help tenants challenge invalid notices of termination or rent reviews; take discrimination cases to the Workplace Relations Commission; challenge illegal evictions and represent tenants at the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)."
He added: "The Government spent €147m on emergency accommodation in 2018, while spending just €9m on prevention. The Budget was an opportunity to redress that balance but sadly that has been missed – the thousands living in the precarious private rented sector will continue to struggle as a result of the limited measures introduced.”
Inner City Helping Homelessness CEO Brian McLoughlin said "the government seem determined to continue over reliance on the private rental market to resolve the crisis through HAP and RAS.
Mr McLoughlin said:
ICHH CEO Anthony Flynn said the government has been nowhere near ambitious enough regarding social or public housing targets and that "they have failed in not delivering enough units to deal with the demand and strain currently set on the state".
He said: "€20m to homeless services shows the reliance that government will have on emergency accommodation supports with expected expenditure on accommodation €166m over the year. This budget will only further delve people who are already marginalised into further poverty with increased taxes. We are disappointed overall to say the least.”
The Society of St Vincent de Paul said that improvements in targeted supports for vulnerable groups in Budget 2020 are very positive but that overall the social welfare measures are insufficient.
SVP National President, Kieran Stafford added “The danger of inadequate social welfare is that it can trap people in poverty, leading to greater social, health and economic costs in the future. That’s why Budget 2020 should have sought to reduce the gap between the lowest social welfare rates and the cost of everyday essentials for people.”
Charity ALONE, which supports older people to age at home, has expressed disappointment that there has not been further support for older people in the Budget today.
ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan said that the decision to deny older people an increase to their pensions is hugely frustrating: "Financial hardship is often a hidden issue among older people, yet it is the third most frequent reason older people contact ALONE.
Mr Moynihan also said the carbon tax increase will impact vulnerable older people who have a low income or live in older, poorly insulated homes, though it welcomes the "modest increase" to the fuel allowance.
Mr Moynihan said the measures of reducing prescription charges by 50c and the introduction of 1 million extra home care houses do not go far enough: "The HSE will provide 17.9 million home support hours to 53,000 people in 2019.
"An additional 1 million hours will not be sufficient to meet the needs of now more than 7,000 older people and people with disabilities on the waiting list for the Home Supports Service. The Home Supports Service requires a far greater increase in hours and a plan for the coming years to meet the demand,”
Active Retirement Ireland criticised the budget as "overly conservative" and said the measures within "don't go far enough to protect the most vulnerable", while Family Carers Ireland said it will not be enough to clear the current waiting list or keep up with demand and demographic changes, nor will it end the homecare crisis.
Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) General Secretary designate Joe Cunningham has slammed the budget for being "muddled, contradictory and regressive".
Mr Cunningham said: "Workers paid for the banking crisis and the budgetary crisis. Now it seems our members and other workers are expected to pay for Brexit and the climate crisis.
He added: "[The Government] have projected falling investment and housing construction in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Yet, it has not taken the opportunity to spend even a small portion of the €20 billion in state savings to build more public housing.
"Such investment would not only be a boost to the productive economy through lower rents, it also would be a proper response to falling growth. The increase in the Housing Assistance Payment to landlords in the budget is twice as much as the cost of projected social housing construction.
“Under these proposals, most recipients of social protection will suffer real cuts in their living standards as inflation, including the carbon tax increase, erodes the value of their weekly rates.
He also condemned the Government’s fuel allowance increase "only affects one-in-three social protection recipients and does not benefit those in work".
He said: “SIPTU members are particularly disappointed at the Government’s failure to address the crisis in childcare. Ireland has one of the highest levels of childcare fees in the EU, while early educators are among the lowest paid.”
SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising and Campaigns Darragh O'Connor said that the budget was an opportunity to introduce a Living Wage but instead the government have chosen to ignore the crisis of low pay and staffing in childcare.
Mr O'Connor said: “Low pay and poor conditions mean that educators in the childcare sector are struggling to make ends meet. The average rate of pay is just €11.18 per hour while many are on the minimum wage. This is well below the Living Wage of €12.30.
"Unsurprisingly, 25% of educators are leaving their job each year, directly undermining quality for children and the sustainability of services. Simply put, childcare is in crisis.”
The British Chamber of Commerce has said the government's plans for a no-deal Brexit will best help protect businesses and trade in the uncertain days and weeks ahead.
Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce John McGrane said: The allocation of €1.2 billion to support these businesses will be vital should a disorderly Brexit come to pass, and the British Irish Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with the Government and other stakeholders in maximising the impact and value of this fund.
"We also welcome the continued investment in infrastructure announced today. In previous challenging economic times, this is an area where governments have made cut-backs to the detriment of firms that rely on high quality infrastructure and good connectivity in order to do business.
He added: “While the British Irish Chamber of Commerce understands the pressures facing the Government in the formulation of Budget 2020, there are some areas that were excluded from today’s announcement that we would have liked to have seen addressed.
“Most notably, the lack of adequate assistance to the higher education sector is disappointing. Such a lack of funding may result in a further drop in the world rankings of many of our universities.
"In the face of future global challenges, it is vital for the Irish economy that we have a properly funded and supported higher education and research system that is equipped to compete on an international stage."
The Irish Exporters Association meanwhile welcomed the "cautious" plans to prepare for no-deal Brexit, with Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association said: "We are concerned that the announcement of €110 million for vulnerable, but viable, companies affected by a no-deal Brexit will not be enough.
"In this context, we are calling on the Minister for Finance and the Government to further clarify how today’s committed spending will be distributed between affected companies."
Children's charity Barnardos has said that while it welcomes the introduction of a pilot scheme to provide free school books and measures to tackle child poverty, it fears that an over-emphasis on preparing for a no-deal Brexit may lead to neglecting the needs of vulnerable children and their families.
Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: "There are economic as well as social costs associated with not funding frontline services sufficiently...
"...Due to the underfunding of services, Ireland is spending an additional €6.95bn on addressing preventable social problems.
She added: “In a recent Barnardos survey, in which 800 parents responded, one in four told us that they did not know where to get help if they were worried about their child. These are the families that we would have liked to see receive more targeted support in Budget 2020.
"There is a welcome increase in funding for Tusla and to support families living in homeless accommodation. However, we await the details as to what this increase in funding will be targeted towards and whether the funding will be allocated to provide intensive family support services which Barnardos has called for."
Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward said: "We are relieved to see that hard-pressed, working lone parents will be able to earn an additional €15 per week and still keep their weekly payment and children in receipt of welfare payments will also get an additional €2 per week if they are under 12 and €3 if they are over 12.
"These may seem like small measures but in reality, it frees these families from the tight grip of poverty.”
The Irish Heart Foundation has said that the budget does not do enough to drive down smoking rates and tackle child obesity.
Head of Advocacy Chris Macey said that while the Irish Heart Foundation that welcomed the continuing policy of annual price hikes on cigarettes, much more is needed to be done to drive down smoking.
"Failure to announce more significant tax increases in tandem with much greater investment in quit services brings into question the Government’s commitment to even trying to achieve one of its flagship national health policies.
"The number of smokers in Ireland has fallen by 80,000 over the last three years, but we need further reductions of 100,000 every year up to 2025 to meet the Government target.
“Meanwhile, the failure to ringfence revenue collected from the sugar sweetened drinks tax or to increase funding for Healthy Ireland is a dereliction of the State’s duty of care to children when its own research estimates that 85,000 of today’s children on the island will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.
“This raises the question as to whether the tax is a health measure, or just another revenue raiser to boost the State coffers whilst the Government fails yet again to resource crucial measures in the national obesity plan.”
The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) has said the ‘Brexit budget’ announced today must not further delay the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) approval of new medicines, causing standards of care for patients to fall relative to European countries.
IPHA called for an ‘adequate allocation for new medicines’ as the Government announced an extra €1 billion in health spending. It said the large savings generated by its members’ discounts and rebates on existing medicines should be clearly and deliberately invested into new, innovative treatments.
IPHA’s Chief Executive, Oliver O’Connor said:
“However, continuing to make new medicines available in a timely way is as important as continuing the supply of existing medicines. Otherwise, the standard of care for Irish patients falls back."
"Today’s Budget must not further slow the approval of vital new medicines for patients,” he added. “In this Brexit budget, it is all the more important that savings be transparently invested in new medicines.
Mr O'Connor continued" "As the HSE prepares its service plan over the coming weeks, medicines must be treated as an investment in standards of care for patients - and not just as another cost.
He added: "Without an additional Exchequer allocation for new medicines, today’s Budget will worsen that trend. New staff without new medicines on time will not add up to best standards of care,” said Mr O’Connor.
IPU Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin said: "The reduction of €10 in monthly threshold of the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) to €114 from €124 is also to be welcomed. It follows a similar reduction last year and we hope that this trend will continue to alleviate any pressures associated with the costs of prescription medication."
Property advisor Savills Ireland has condemned the raising of stamp duty on commercial property purchases from 6% to 7.5% in the budget, branding it as unhelpful in selling Ireland as a predictable place to do business, "particularly at a time of heightened economic uncertainty".
Savills noted that this is the second time in three budgets that commercial stamp duty was "unexpectedly increased".
Savills also said that "while this will be perceived as a business-to-business tax, households should be aware that it will reduce the value of the property assets in their pension funds."
Data comprised by the property advisor shows that Ireland now has the third highest commercial stamp duty rate in the European Union after Brussels (12.5%) and Luxembourg City (10%).
Tax partner at Deloitte Padraic Whelan added: "We would advise caution to the extent that such increases, if continued in later Budgets, could unduly slow down commercial activity and foreign direct investment post Brexit."
The Asthma Society of Ireland has welcomed the Nitrogen Oxide charge on new and imported diesel and petrol cars, as well as the tax on carbon in Budget 2020.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe announced an increase of carbon tax per tonne by €6 to €26 per tonne.
CEO of the Asthma Society, Sarah O'Connor said: "Measures such as the carbon tax and the charge on nitrogen oxide aimed at achieving lower levels of ambient air pollution are to be commended, particularly in light of the recent EPA report on World Lung Day.
"However, we would like to see the government launch and implement its National Clean Air Strategy as a priority. We believe that any funds raised from this new charge on Nitrogen Oxide (expected €20 million) should be put into tackling air pollution.
However, Director of Friends of the Earth Oisin Coghlan has said the carbon tax rise is just one small piece of the jigsaw and "like all complex jigsaws it is best done in collaboration.
"The Government needs to sit down with the Society of the Vincent De Paul and other stakeholders to discuss how those most affected by incremental carbon tax increases are protected and enabled to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
"The new Just Transition Commissioner must sit down with all stakeholders to chart a path away from peat to sustainable jobs in the midlands as fast as possible.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said it is an important step in achieving the goal of reducing carbon emmissions by 40% by 2030.
ESRI report authors Kelly de Bruin said: “The economic and household-level impacts of the proposed carbon tax increase in the all government Climate Action Plan are limited and with a well-designed carbon revenue recycling scheme, it is possible to reduce impacts further and compensate those households most affected."