It's Budget 2018 day... and here's who wants what
The Budget is here. Here's some of the key priorities of Fine Gael and the Independents supporting the government, what Fianna Fáil is looking for, and alternative proposals put forward by the opposition parties.
The party has a number of measures it has already promised voters as the government looks to delivered a so-called "balanced budget". Among their priorities are:
- A raise in the threshold for the 40pc income tax rate to kick in.
- An increase in the State pension and other Social Protection payments though they're likely to be delayed for a number of months due to the high cost of hikes over a full year.
- A Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients, although it won't be restored to the full 100pc.
- A reduction in prescription charges for 65 to 69 year-olds.
- A rise in commercial stamp duty.
- Funding for hundreds more Gardaí.
- An increase in excise on cigarettes and the introduction of a sugar tax.
This year marks another budget in which Fianna Fáil hold the balance of power, as the party will have to abstain to allow Minister Donohoe's budget to pass. The party has made a number of demands during negotiations with Fine Gael including:
- Cuts to the Universal Social Charge (USC) targeted at low and middle income earners.
- Also want a hikes to the State pension and other Social Protection payments.
- Increase funding for social and affordable housing.
- More funding for mental health services.
- A reduction in class sizes in schools.
Sources have indicated that Minister Donohoe is dealing with the five members of the Independent Alliance on an individual basis this year and many are reportedly unhappy with their packages, even at this late date. Their requests vary across a number of areas and include:
- Increased payments for people with disabilities and carers.
- The return of the bereavement grant.
- A betting tax of up to 5pc on all transactions with the proceeds ring-fenced for mental health and addiction services.
- Other Independents in government.
- Katherine Zappone is seeking increased funding for the childcare subsidy scheme.
- Denis Naughten has pushed for increased home help hours for the elderly.
Sinn Féin's alternative budget plans includes abolishing the Help-to-Buy scheme which looks unlikely to happen tomorrow. The measures the party says it would take if in power include:
- An additional 7c levy on each €1 on individual income over €100,000 would raise €662m.
- Abolishing property tax which would cost €445m.
- A €1.13bn spend on delivering new homes.
- Abolishing the Help-to-Buy scheme for first time buyers saving €40m.
In their pre-budget statement Labour have made a number of suggestions and have said they would:
- Restore the weekly social welfare payment rates for the under-26s at a cost of €96m.
- End refundable research and development tax credits to companies raising €200m.
- Introduce various improvements to primary care in the health service at an overall cost of €105.5m.
Solidarity-People Before Profit
The opposition party has prioritised taxing corporations and Ireland's wealthiest in their pre-Budget statement saying they would introduce:
- Increased taxes on corporations and the "super-rich" to raise €16bn.
- Provide funding for 40,000 social and affordable housing units.
The Green Party has tabled a radical suggestion on basic income in their pre-Budget statement, and have said they would introduce:
- The ringfencing of 10pc of the transport Budget for cycling.
- A trial of a basic income scheme in six towns.
The Social Democrats have focused on housing, saying they would introduce:
- A new land-hoarding tax.
- An enhanced affordable housing scheme for first-time buyers.