Welfare boost, rent credit, and new GP cards in budget for 'uncertain and difficult times'

Welfare boost, rent credit, and new GP cards in budget for 'uncertain and difficult times'

From pensions and energy to health and education, the €10bn Budget 2023 is intended to get Ireland through 'very uncertain and difficult times', Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated last night. Stock picture

All social welfare weekly payments will increase by €12 and renters will receive tax credits worth €1,000 in today’s giveaway budget.

An additional 430,000 people will become eligible to receive a GP visit card, meaning for the first time more than half the population — 2.5m citizens — will have either a GP visit card or a full medical card.

The €10bn budget package will aim to protect families and small businesses from the worst of the raging cost-of-living crisis.

Childcare fees will drop by €170 per month from January, while third-level fees are to be slashed by €1,000 immediately and significantly reduced on a permanent basis over the coming years.

Any family earning under €100,000 will see a permanent reduction of €500 in college fees.

Families earning €62,000 a year will pay no more than €1,500 in fees due to changes in student grant rules.

All student grant recipients will get a double payment, and PhD students will get a once-off cost-of-living payment before Christmas.

Every renter in the country will receive two tax credits — €500 this year and a further €500 next year — to help with soaring housing costs.

Over the next year, it is estimated the Government will return around €4,580 to a middle-income couple, both earning €45k and with two children, one at primary school. The couple will collectively recoup €1,600 on tax-band changes, save around €2,000 on childcare fees, and €100 on school books.

The couple will also benefit from energy credits totalling €600, and €280 in a one-off double payment of child benefit.

The Government will today reveal a budget of €6.7bn in spending and tax measures and a €3bn pot to tackle cost-of-living and one-off measures.

A weekly increase of €12 in core social welfare payments is set to cost the State €900m.

There will also be a one-off payment of €500 for all carers in the country, as well as people with a disability.

An increase of €20 to the domiciliary care allowance will be announced, as well as a €500 lump sum for those on the working family payment, and increased thresholds for that payment to allow more lower-paid workers to qualify for it.

Energy schemes for businesses 

Two new schemes will be announced to help businesses with the cost of electricity and gas.

For larger firms involved in exporting and manufacturing, businesses can receive up to €2m in financial aid, but will have to produce a business plan to show how they will control their energy costs.

A second scheme, the temporary business energy support scheme, will target SMEs and will cover 40% of the increase in electricity or gas bills, up to a maximum of €10,000 per month per business.

These two measures will be backed up by a new low-cost loan, similar to the Brexit and Covid loans.

The free contraception scheme will be extended up to and including 30-year-olds, hospital inpatient charges will be scrapped, and the first publicly-funded IVF treatment will be provided in 2023.

Meanwhile, the capital budget for defence will be more than €176m — an increase of €67m — meaning a total spend of €1.17bn on defence in 2023.

An additional €47m is also expected to be announced to tackle low pay and pensions.

It is understood that Justice Minister Helen McEntee has secured funding for 1,000 new garda trainees to enter Templemore next year, more than 400 new garda staff, and an increase in garda overtime as part of an effort to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government wants to support families and young people as well as protect jobs and invest in public services in Budget 2023.

He said that, despite living in “uncertain and difficult times”, the economy will pull through this crisis.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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