At lunchtime the Government will reveal details of the Budget 2021. Here’s everything we know so far…
■ The Christmas Bonus for welfare recipients like pensioners and jobseekers will be paid this year. It will also be paid to most people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). Ordinarily, a person must be on a welfare support for 15 months to qualify for the Christmas bonus. However, the Government has decided to reduce this to four months, to allow those on the pandemic support to receive the top-up this year.
■ A €5-per-week increase for around 200,000 people in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance, which will see it go from €14 to €19 per week.
■ Around €220m in funding is to be set aside to pay for the delay in increasing the State Pension age increase from 66 to 67.
■ More than 110,000 carers are to benefit from a €150 increase in the Carer’s Support Grant. It is to go up from €1,700 to €1,850.
■ Funding to allow an extra three weeks of parents’ leave is to be included in the Budget.
■ Across-the-board increases to the State pension and other welfare payments won’t be happening.
■ There will be a hike in the weekly rates for the ‘Increase for a Qualified Child’ scheme which will rise by €5 for children over 12 and by €2 for children under 12. The full weekly rate for children over 12 will increase to €45 and to €38 for children under 12.
■ The Hot School Meals scheme is also set to receive an additional €5m in the budget.
■ The €1,000 ‘white van man’ grant for the self-employed including tradesmen and taxi drivers is to be extended into next year.
■ A €3.50 increase in the fuel allowance to €24 per week to help vulnerable households amid an increase in carbon tax.
■ Annual €7.50 increases in the carbon tax to be enshrined in law via the Finance Bill, Paschal Donohoe confirms. Carbon taxes will increase by €7.50 to €33.50 per tonne. This will add €1.28 to the cost of a 60-litre tank of petrol or €1.47 to the same amount of diesel, as well as increasing the cost of home heating through solid fuels or gas.
■ Motor tax and VRT are set to rise as part of Government efforts to discourage people from driving cars with high emissions. The changes will see motor tax increase by as much as €50 a year for some drivers of high-polluting cars, while it is set to decrease for those who drive zero-emission cars.
■ A €300m investment in a retro-fitting project to improve energy efficiency in homes.
■ Between €4bn and €5bn for a ‘super fund’ to deal with the twin-threat posed by Covid-19 and Brexit is being discussed. It is unclear whether the planned National Recovery Fund will form part of this or is separate.
■ At least €1bn in extra funding for Capital Expenditure in 2021 over and above what was budgeted for in 2020. Much of it will be spent on transport, such as roads projects, public transport and active travel including walking and cycling. It will also be spent on social housing and school building projects.
■ There is expected to be no income tax increases or cuts in the Budget.
■ Businesses forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions will be able to claim up to €5,000 week from Revenue under a new scheme to be announced in the Budget. The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will provide businesses with immediate funding if they are forced to close due to level three or higher restrictions.
■ Existing grants for the live entertainment sector will be topped up with extra funding and new schemes are to be rolled out to protect jobs in the industry. One scheme will provide a minimum of €10,000 to live venues where concerts or plays have been forced to cancel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Smaller grants will be made available to local drama and dance societies. There will also be arts grants made available to schools and colleges.
■ The VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality industry sector is being cut from 13.5pc to 9pc.
■ The commercial rates holiday for businesses is expected to be extended into next year.
■ The enhanced Help-to-Buy scheme – allowing home-buyers to claim back up to €30,000 – will be extended until the end of 2021
■ There will be at least €500m in extra spending on delivering housing including a target of building 9,500 social homes.
■ The Budget is to set the basis for the scale of a new Affordable Housing Scheme.
■ Homelessness funding is to rise to €218m this year.
■ Overall health spending is expected to grow by €4bn next year, with half for Covid-related issues and half for the implementation of the Sláintecare plan, including new hospital beds. This figure includes funding for 100,000 tests a week.
■ There will be €100m in new funding for the disabilities sector as part of the wider health package.
■ The price of cigarettes is up 50 cent, making a box of 20 €14, but alcohol remains untouched.
■ Smaller class sizes in primary schools and reduction in pupil teacher ratio from 26:1 to 25:1 with 307 more teachers in schools in 2021
■ Every full-time third level student is in line for a €250 State payment in the current academic year following agreement on a €50million Covid-related assistance fund top up. Final decisions have yet to be taken on how to allocate the money, but discussions are focused on a top-up for SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) grant holders and partial fees rebate for all other students.
■ Funding is to be provided for around 400 extra special-educational-needs teachers and up to 1,000 extra special-needs assistants.
■ A €50m third level education fund will provide once off grants of around €250 to students who are struggling for cash while in college.
■ There will be €120m for a programme for reskilling and retraining workers as well as apprenticeships
■ Funding allocated for 80 occupational, behavioural and speech and language therapists.
Postgraduate student grants:
■ Fee grants for post-graduate students to increase from €2,000 to €3,500 in September 2021
■ Fee income threshold to increase from €31,500 to €54,240 from September 2021.