Motor insurance and transport investment - 10 missed opportunities in Budget 2018
It was a Budget which sought to please everyone, but what areas could be seen as missed opportunities for Leo Varadkar's Government?
1. Landlord incentives
In relation to housing, the incentive for landlords to upgrade properties and make them available for the rental sector could have been higher. The upper limit of €5,000 would barely cover basics.
2. First time buyers
While there was no change to the Help-to-Buy scheme for first-time buyers, and a range of measures aimed at boosting housing supply, there was little in the Budget to directly help people caught up in the rental sector.
3. Vacant homes
Homelessness charity, the Peter McVerry Trust expressed disappointment that an empty homes tax wasn’t announced in the Budget arguing that encouraging the opening up of more vacant properties would be “an opportunity to bring about additional housing stock at a faster rate.”
4. Alcohol excise duty
There were no increases to excise duty on alcohol and there haven’t been since 2014. An increase would have shown the government is getting tough on drink at the same time as raising additional funds for spending measures.
The Private Hospitals Association has argued that the lack of measures to phase out private care in public hospitals is a missed opportunity to implement one of the recommendations of the Sláintecare report into the future of healthcare compiled by a cross-party committee of TDs.
6. Transport infrastructure
There was little in the way of announcements on investment in transport infrastructure other than a mention of plans for the Sallins bypass, the Oberstown interchange project and the BusConnects plan to improve Dublin’s bus system.
There’s been no equalisation of the cost of diesel and petrol. Motorists are still encouraged to drive diesel vehicles due to the lower excise duty on the fuel. That’s despite diesel causing worse pollution.
8. Motor insurance
The AA has said it’s disappointed that there’s nothing in the Budget to address the cost of motor insurance, pointing to government levies that add 5pc to the yearly cost for 2m motorists.
9. Legal aid
In justice, the small €1.25m increase in funding for the Legal Aid Board is unlikely to allow the abolition of the practice of seeking contributions of at least €130 from clients towards their costs in civil cases. There have been calls for scrapping the fees in some cases after a domestic violence victim had to represent herself in court.
10. Tax credits for farmers
In agriculture, the lack of an increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit to match the PAYE credit impacts disproportionately on lower income farmers.