Wednesday 23 August 2017

Noonan shelves plans to slash Universal Social Charge by full 1pc in Budget

Mr Noonan said he still intends for the USC to be phased out over five budgets. Pic Tom Burke
Mr Noonan said he still intends for the USC to be phased out over five budgets. Pic Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has admitted that plans to slash the Universal Social Charge (USC) by a full 1pc in the Budget have been shelved.

The Fine Gael manifesto committed to the move, which would have seen workers save €500 each next year.

But as revealed by the Irish Independent last week, ministers are now veering towards a smaller USC cut ahead of the Budget on October 11.

Speaking to reporters at the Fine Gael think-in in Kildare, Mr Noonan confirmed that the 1pc commitment no longer stands.

"No, we are no longer committed to the detail. Obviously, the Government wasn't re-elected in its older form, everybody knows that," Mr Noonan said.

"The Programme for Government is now the new document from what we are working... we are not building the Budget on an election manifesto. We are building on the Programme for Government," he added.

Mr Noonan said he still intends for the USC to be phased out over five budgets.

The Limerick TD said he had no plans to include tax hikes in the Budget, other than an increase in excise duties on cigarettes and a sugar tax.

And he said the sugar tax - a levy on fizzy drinks - won't come into effect until 2018, in line with a move taken by the UK authorities.

Mr Noonan said the Budget will be done in consultation with Fianna Fáil.

Asked what people can expect, the minister said the Government will invest in services, and hire additional gardaí and nurses.

Meanwhile, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said he expects the demands for ministers for money for spending projects is "many multiples" of what the Government can afford.

The Budget will be just €1bn in size, he added.

Irish Independent

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