By Daniel McConnell, Fiachra Ó Cionnaith & Elaine Loughlin
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has announced spending plans totalling €66.5bn for 2019.
He said Ireland will run a balanced budget in 2019 and committed to running surpluses in the year's ahead if revenues allow.
Of that, €59.3bn will be on current expenditure and €7.3bn on Capital spending.
He said economic growth in excess of 7% is now expected across 2018 and forecasts for next year is also expected to increase.
People on the highest rate of income tax and the universal social charge will save more than €1,000 as part of tax changes revealed under budget 2019.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the plans as part of the tax plans due to be introduced from the start of next year.
Under the widely flagged measures, a series of universal social charge and income tax cuts will be introduced.
However, in a deeply controversial move, no carbon tax initiatives will be included in budget 2019.
In the budget tax details revealed this afternoon, Mr Donohoe said:
* the 4.75% USC rate will drop to 4.5% from January 1, saving a person €502. This move will cost the State €123m
* the USC 2% entry point rate will rise rise to €13,000, meaning someone earning below this level will not pay USC
* the entry point for the highest rate of income tax will rise by €750, from €34,550 to €35,300, for single individuals and €43,550 to €44,300 for married one earner couples, costing €161m
* and the rise in the hourly minimum wage from €9.55 to €9.80
In addition, further tax changes will see an increase in the home carer tax credit from €1,200 to €1,500 - costing the State €24m - and the earned income credit will rise from €1,150 to €1,350, costing €48m.
A widely flagged betting tax change will see taxes on bookmakers rise from 1% to 2%, bringing in €51.6m, while the hotel VAT rate will rise from 9% to 13.5%, bringing in €560m.
Other changes will include:
* rise in the threshold for inheritance tax from €310,000 to €320,000, costing the State €8.1m
* The employers PRSI threshold will rise from €376 to €386, costing the State €3m
However, controversially, there will be no changes to carbon tax will be introduced despite demands from environmentalists.
The Government has allocated €12 m to fund the roll-out of abortion services next year following the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment.
Health Minister Simon Harris remains confident that termination services will be in place from January and funding will be provided across community and hospital settings to develop a full range of services within the public health system.
While spending on health is already at record levels, the overall health budget is to increase by €1.05billion to €17.02bn next year.
Following the CervicalCheck scandal, the Government have decided to fund some of the recommendations of the Scally Report which looked at the smear check audit controversy.
Some €9 million has been allocated to pay for the introduction of HPV tests as the primary screening test as well as the extension of the existing HPV vaccination programme to boys.
An extra €20m has been pumped into the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) bringing the fund to €75m in 2019.
Speaking in the Dáil, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: "The extra €20m I am making available today represents a substantial €36% increase on last year's allocation."
Other health measures contained in Budget 2019 include:
- A reduction in prescription change for over 70s by 50c.
- An increase in the GP visit card weekly income threshold by €25.
- A €10 reduction in the monthly Drugs Payment Scheme from €134 to €124.
The budget allocation for mental health services will go up bringing the total available to €1bn, this is a 9% increase.
While the allocation for disability services will jump by €150m bringing the total amount allocated to this area to almost €2bn.
Spending totalling €2.4 billion to address the national housing crisis have been announced in the Budget.
In total, Capital funding totalling €1.4bn for the building of new social and affordable homes has been allocated by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe for 2019.
In terms of new measures, Mr Donohoe has announced that 16,760 additional homes will be accomodated under the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) at a cost of €121 million.
Mr Donohoe has announced that day-to-day spending on social housing is to increase by €40 million with the aim of delivering almost 5,000 new homes in 2019.
Another €30 million has been made available for homelessness services with the express aim of delivering more emergency accomodation.
Another €8 million has been provided to assist the Tenancies Board in implementing tenancy law.
An additional €60 million has been provided for local government to cover increased pension and pay costs under the national pay agreement.
In terms of capital spending, an additional €210 million has been announced for local authorities to build and acquire new homes for social housing.
A further €69 million has been provided for the servicing of local authority sites, to assist the delivery of affordable homes in “the coming years”.
In relation to Irish Water, which falls under the remit of the Department of Housing, €122 million in additional funds have been allocated for investment in the country's water network.
And, a total of €83 million has been allocated to meet increased costs in the Urban Renewal Scheme.
Landlords will also be given up to €18m in tax breaks in a bid to keep them from fleeing the market as part of budget 2019
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the controversial move during his budget speech this afternoon after it was revealed in yesterday's Irish Examiner.
As part of a wider package which will also include a long-term €300m affordable housing plan, Mr Donohoe said this afternoon landlords will be given highly controversial tax breaks.
Outlining the situation, a budget document read: "The increase in the amount of interest paid in respect of loans used to purchase, improve or repair a residential property that may be deducted by landlords will be accelerated to 100% from January 1, 2019."
The document said the move will cost the State €18m - meaning landlords will be given a multi-million euro tax break through a write-off of their mortgage interest relief loans.
In terms of spending, Social Protection is by far the largest spending department and will receive a total of €20.5bn for 2019.
New welfare measures announced will cost a total of €361 million in 2019.
He has increased the weekly rates of welfare benefits for 1.47 million people at a cost of €268.7 million.
He has increased the weekly rate of the qualified child increase for children under 12 by €2.20 per week to €34.
For those children over 12, he has increased it by €5.20 a week to €37.
Lone Parents will see their allowance increase by €20 a week from €130 a week to €150 a week.
Mr Donohoe has also increased the Back to School allowance by €25 (from €125 to €150 for primary school children and from €250 to €275 for secondary school children).
He has also introduced a new social insurance paid parental leave scheme for employees and the self-employed of two weeks' leave per parent in line with maternity benefit.
Mr Donohoe has also extended the duration of the fuel season by one week from 27 weeks to 28 weeks at a cost of €8.4 million.
He has also increased the budgets for the free TV licence and free travel by €5 million each.
More parents are to receive support to pay for childcare as part of Budget 2019.
The Government will increase childcare funding by 18% next year bringing the the total allocation to €574m. This will cover a number of supports of both universal and targeted services for the care of children.
Included in the measures is a loosening of the income threshold for the Affordable Childcare Scheme as follows:
-The base income threshold will increase from €22,700 to €26,000
-The maximum income threshold will go from €47,500 to €60,000.
-The multiple child deduction will increase from €3,800 to €4,300.
Tusla, the child and family agency, will receive over €30m more next year, bringing their overall allocation to €786m.
The additional resources will allow Tusla to implement recommendation made by HIQA on the management of child sexual abuse allegations.
It will go towards further investment in and development of the family resource centres network and to domestic, sexual and gender-based violences services.
Overall the Department of Children has received an extra €127m in funding next year.
Speaking as he delivered his Budget speech this afternoon, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: "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."
The Government will recruit an additional 800 Gardaí in 2019, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has announced.
With an expected 300 retirements, this will result in a net increase in the force of 500 as part of the stated aim to increase the force to 15,000 by 2021.
The cost of the recruitment will cost €63.5 million and will help hire an additional group of managers, civilians in the force as well as addressing overtime pressures.
Overall, an additional €89 million in current spending in the Justice area has been approved for 2019 as well as a further €76 million in capital expenditure.
Mr Donohoe has also increased provision by €12 million to allow the criminal legal aid system address “increasing demands on its services”.
Just €10 million has been allocated to support the ongoing re-structuring of the Department of Justice and to implement the report by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
Amid increased concerns about cybersecurity, Mr Donohoe has allocated just €3.5 million extra for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, and only €1.6 million in added funding for the Office of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
The Government is to provide €60m in current and capital supports to the help prepare farmers for the impact of Brexit.
In his Budget speech, Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe said the agriculture sector is facing a number of threats with Brexit posing specific challenges and extra funding will be allocated to help "improve resilience" in this area.
"As well as making provision for the initial staffing and ICT needs in relation to the regulatory requirements of Brexit, agencies will be allocated additional resources to promote new markers and retain competitiveness," said Mr Donohoe.
Among the specific measures which this funding package will cover is an extra €5m allocation to Bord Bia to support promotion and development work in the context of Brexit.
Some €11m will also go towards research facilities for the prepared consumer foods sector and the development of a National Food Innovation Hub.
While the Government will improve the capacity of meat inspection services to maintain food safety standards and help the development of export markets.
There will be further investment in developing fisheries harbour centres.
Mr Donohoe also said he "recognises that 2018 has been a difficult year for farmers" and will be renewing the existing stock relief measures for a further three years.
To help farmers cope with income volatility, income averaging to farms with off-farm trading income has also been extended.
A new pilot scheme targeted at suckler farmers, aimed at further improving the carbon efficiency of beef production, will be rolled-out
Extra supports will be given to 96,000 farmers in areas of natural constraint, through increased funding for the ANC scheme.
Overall an extra €57m of current expenditure has been allocated to the the Department of Agriculture in 2019 above this year's funding.