Carbon charge relief for vulnerable in budget

Households with poor heating systems and families impacted by fuel poverty will escape carbon charge rises planned for this week’s budget.

Carbon charge relief for vulnerable in budget

Households with poor heating systems and families impacted by fuel poverty will escape carbon charge rises planned for this week’s budget.

Environment Minister Richard Bruton said there would be assistance for households with bad heating systems but that carbon taxes will go up incrementally in the years ahead.

It is expected that charges will rise by €6 per tonne of carbon used. This will net the Government at least an extra €100m, money that will go back into climate action measures and assistance for households impacted by fuel poverty.

Mr Bruton said there would be “small increases” over “small periods” but that vulnerable people, including those with poor heating systems, would be protected.

It is unclear if these households will get exemptions from higher carbon charges or some type of tax rebate.

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly told RTÉ that the Government should “not punish” poor people who could not afford to buy new cars or put solar panels on their homes.

Instead, free transport and more retrofit supports would encourage people to reduce carbon outputs, she insisted.

Elsewhere, modest tax changes for low-paid workers will form part of the budget.

The €13,000 entry point to the Universal Social Charge will be raised to ensure a 30 cent rise in the minimum wage to €10.10 an hour is not taken back in tax. This is expected to cost around €40m.

In Justice, after the overtime spend for gardaí and a supplement of €32m for this year, it is expected that funds will be made available to pay for the recruitment of an extra 600 gardaí.

The budget is expected to see the announcement of funding for next year of free GP care for under eights, and free dental care for children aged under six. There will be further cuts in prescription charges for over 70s.

Other measures are in part secured in agreement with Fianna Fáil, who want supports for services, including more money for medical procedures under the National Treatment Purchase Fund, more home supports, and affordable housing resources.

Negotiations continued at Government Buildings yesterday, with both Fianna Fáil and the Independent Alliance meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The centre of his budget will be a no-deal Brexit package, estimated at €900m, to protect jobs, particularly in the agriculture, food, and tourism sectors.

It is expected that €150m of this will come from Europe.

While initiatives will be announced to protect the sectors, money will also be set aside for Revenue, the IDA, and Enterprise Ireland.

Asked about the Brexit package over the weekend, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The components will involve a financial package to save jobs and businesses that are viable in the long term, but may be vulnerable as a consequence of Brexit.”

Agriculture, the food industry, fisheries, exporters to the UK, and tourism would be those most protected, said Mr Varadkar, adding: “We will have to have a focus on the border region, which could be very much affected too.”

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