#Budget2020: TDs and senators briefed amid fears of backlash over higher carbon taxes and delayed benefits

Fine Gael TDs and senators are this afternoon getting a detailed briefing on the government's pre-Brexit budget, amid fears over higher carbon taxes and a backlash over delayed benefits.

#Budget2020: TDs and senators briefed amid fears of backlash over higher carbon taxes and delayed benefits

Fine Gael TDs and senators are this afternoon getting a detailed briefing on the government's pre-Brexit budget, amid fears over higher carbon taxes and a backlash over delayed benefits.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is facing into this coalition's last budget with a potential €3.1bn in financial firepower available ahead of the next general election and a possible hard Brexit.

In Leinster House, TDs and senators were being briefed on new carbon taxes and alleviation measures for vulnerable households when the Fine Gael party meet at noon.

Mr Donohoe will then get to his feet at 1pm to deliver what, in essence, is being viewed as a prudent Budget for next year's spending.

Already, parties are scrambling to claim credit for minor wins. Independent Alliance ministers are insisting they got wins with an extra 56,000 new medical cards while Fianna Fáil are pointing to cash for boosting services, including an extra 700 gardaí, the raising of the national treatment purchase fund to €100m, and an extra one million home help hours.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael figures are openly nervous about any possible backlash over plans to increase carbon taxes to €26 a tonne. This will put 2c on every litre of petrol and some €15 on a tank of heating oil.

Petrol and diesel increases kick in this evening as does an increase in commercial stamp duty to 7.5%, which will raise an extra €140m. A pack of cigarettes and tobacco will also be increased by 50c.

Despite the extra taxes, benefits for the vulnerable, young, and low paid won't kick in until next year, in part because of fears Britain could crash out of the EU in the coming months.

Free GP care for the under-eights, dental care for under-sixes won't come into place until next September while changes to the USC for the minimum wage won't come into play until next March.

Elsewhere, modest rises in welfare are also expected to be delayed.

Amid these concerns as well as higher pollution charges with carbon taxes, the Fine Gael-led government are keen to ensure the budget is stamped with alleviation measures.

While Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wants the Budget to have a 'green' image, there will be a €30m transition package for the midlands, amid job losses there. Furthermore, households with poor heating systems and those already on fuel allowances are expected to escape part of the carbon tax increases. Full details on this will be revealed by Environment Minister Richard Bruton at a press conference after 3pm today.

Overall, ministers will point to the expected €1bn special fund for a no-deal Brexit which will be front and centre of the coalition's budget. This will outline protections for jobs and sectors across a range of departments, including agriculture, tourism, food and business.

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