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More free GP care for kids and free contraceptives for young adults to be revealed in Budget 2022

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Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. (Julien Behal/PA)

Free GP care for children up to the age of seven will be an eye-catching feature of the Budget tomorrow.

Ministers believe the reduced Covid threat will allow several Budget measures aimed at helping with everyday medical costs.

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There will also be a lowering of the threshold for the Drug Refund Scheme from €114 to a flat €100, which will save €168 a year.

And there will be improvements to the dental scheme aimed particularly at young PAYE workers. They will now qualify after two years of PRSI contributions instead of five.

There will be a package for disability, mental health and older people, the Irish Independent has learned. Home supports and care hours will be increased.

A €250m package will tackle waiting lists, now approaching a total of one million people.

There will a €30m cancer strategy allocation, and €10m to back the roll-out of free contraceptives to young adults.

Measures will be taken to relieve period poverty for the first time ever in Ireland. There will also be money to expand services at sexual assault treatment units.

There will be 50 cent imposed on a packet of 20 cigarettes and pro-rata on other tobacco or nicotine products.

There will be zero further tax on alcohol, either at on-sales or off-licences.

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The fuel allowance will go up and could extend in payment duration as a result of the energy crisis.

There will be no change on PRSI and little on income tax, although the threshold for entering the tax net will be raised and the standard rate band considerably widened.

The number of new gardaí to be recruited has risen from 500 to a new figure of 700 after weekend discussions.

Meanwhile, a new local property tax “LPT for land hoarders” will have real teeth, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has determined.

Owners of zoned and serviced property which is not developed after receiving planning permission will face a 3pc value tax.

They will have to make self-assessed declarations, as with LPT, and the scheme will be administered in the same way by the Revenue Commissioners, taking it away from local authorities for whom it is not a core responsibility.

The homes package will see €600m released to minister Darragh O’Brien for the first stage of the Housing for All strategy.

Tourism is to get an injection of up to €50m extra to market Ireland’s openness and welcome abroad.

The package will boost domestic and inbound tourism numbers, and to support the sector through direct job support under the Business Continuity Scheme.

There’ll be cash to boost recovery in the worst-hit sector as a result of the pandemic, up by a quarter on pre-Covid support levels in a win for arts and culture minister Catherine Martin. However, she had sought up to €100m extra.

The money will go to invigorate festivals and musical events, including nightclubs. The overall allocation jumps from €180m to about €230m.

A new childcare drive, highlighted in the Sunday Independent yesterday, will see worker salary subvention under the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) in return for a pledge that the costs charged to parents will not increase.

There will also be widened access to places under steps the Government has in mind.

Pensioners will get an extra €5 a week, with pro-rata increases for all other areas of welfare payments, with none exceeding the headline rate.

It follows two years in which there was no improvement to the benefits paid.

On the other hand, the family staple of child benefit will be yet again left alone.

The Greens will get €120m for retrofitting and a huge allocation for public transport, as indicated in the revised National Development Plan announced a week ago.

The minimum wage will rise to €10.50 per hour.


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