The Budget in a nutshell

A quick look at the main points of Budget 2003.

Pensions rise won’t cover costs

THE 10 a week increase in old age pensions was hailed as a first step towards the Government’s pledge to increase the State pension to 200 per week. However, groups for the elderly say the rise will be eaten up by higher fuel and food costs.

Roads get extra funds

AN extra 209m will be put into the National Roads Programme in 2003. Up to seven major projects, which were deferred can begin.

Farming cuts put talks in doubt

CUTS in agricultural estimates mean farmers may pull out of talks with the Government on the formation of a new national partnership agreement.

Smokers to pay more on pack of 20

CIGARETTES up 50 cent on a packet of 20. Spirits up 20 cent a shot and Alcopops up 35 cent a bottle. No change in price of pint.

Low income earners ‘left out in cold’

THE social welfare changes have been attacked by low income earners and children’s organisations, but the Government argues the benefits will help the elderly.

Cash can’t cure health service ills, say bosses

DESPITE increases in the respite grant and carer’s allowance, health chiefs claim the Health Strategy is dead in the water because of the Budget decision to cap recruitment to the public services.

Capitation grants frozen

CAPITATION grants for day-to-day running of schools frozen. Tax breaks for student accommodation and third-level buildings to be terminated by end 2004. Schools and third-level staff to gain from first phase of benchmarking pay.

Change in VRT tax will hit drivers hard

REVISION of VRT tax bands to include all vehicles over 1900cc will increase costs to consumers and make it harder for dealers to sell cars. A 3 cent increase was put on a litre of diesel.

Marine industry ignored

THE marine industry did not merit a mention from Minister McCreevy. A desperate plea for additional tax-free allowances for the struggling fishing industry fell on deaf ears.

And in the film industry tax relief for investment will be terminated four months' earlier than the previous deadline. Relief will now be available for investments made up to the end of 2004.

House prices set to rise as builders pass on VAT hike

HOUSE prices are set to rise as builders pass on the 1% hike in VAT to buyers, making any potential benefit to first-time buyers from an increase in mortgage interest relief virtually worthless.

Cost of childcare not addressed

€8 increase for first and second child. €10 rise for third and subsequent children. Increases fall well short of €23 promised with childcare costs set to increase.

NWC chairwoman Gráinne Healy said: “These increases would not even buy you 15 minutes of childcare, it is far worse than we expected.”

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