Wednesday 16 October 2019

Ireland’s Brexit budget to be unveiled

Focus will be on a hike in carbon tax, the government’s Brexit package, welfare measures and general taxes.

By Cate McCurry, PA

Ireland’s Government is to unveil its Budget today which has been designed to absorb the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Focus will be on a hike in carbon tax, the government’s Brexit package, welfare measures and general taxes.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar said Budget 2020 is to limit the impact and risks of Brexit on the economy.

He denied suggestions it was an austerity budget or that there would be cutbacks.

Further focus will be on the government’s Brexit contingency plans and what measures will be introduced weeks before the UK is due to leave the European Union.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that the State’s budget for a no-deal Brexit is to give certainty to businesses and people and to safeguard the national finances.

He has also ruled out a supplementary budget despite a warning from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) who said a no-deal Brexit posed risks of a recession and advised an additional budget may be needed.

“Deal or no deal, I will not be doing another budget. On October 8 I will outline the overall budgetary framework and any response I need to put in place will be inside that,” he said.

Among the reforms is the controversial increase in carbon tax.

Carbon tax is taxed at 20 euro per tonne of CO2 emissions. It’s expected to increase by around seven euro per tonne.

TDs have called for increases in the carbon tax to be “ring-fenced” for environmental projects.

Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said on Monday that measures should be put in place that would protect people most affected, including an increase to the fuel allowance.

A number of opposition TDs have warned about the impact of the changes on people living in rural Ireland.

Last-minute talks were being held on Monday evening to rubber stamp the plans for next year’s budget.

It emerged that around 50,000 people over the age of 70 will be eligible for medical cards as part of the budget plans.

The new threshold for a single person is set to increase by 50 euro and 150 euro per couple.

Mr Varadkar previously suggested that there could be some changes to income tax adding that any changes would be “minimal”.

“There will be some tax reductions but they won’t be like the last three years,” he said.

Pensioners will not get a five euro top-up in the budget despite calls for it to be increased by seven euro by a number of charities.

Alone, which helps thousands of elderly people across Ireland, said that more than 63,000 people over the age of 65 experience enforced deprivation.

It is also expected that the help-to-buy scheme is to be extended for another year.

The scheme allows first-time buyers to access around 20,000 euro for homes costing up to 500,000 euro.

The Brexit budget is to be unveiled by Mr Donohoe at 1pm in the Dail.

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