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New tax break for home workers in time for roll-out of broadband plan

 

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'The Budget move comes just in time for the first tranche of 7,900 rural homes and businesses that are to get their first access to high-speed broadband under the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan by the end of December' (stock photo)

'The Budget move comes just in time for the first tranche of 7,900 rural homes and businesses that are to get their first access to high-speed broadband under the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan by the end of December' (stock photo)

'The Budget move comes just in time for the first tranche of 7,900 rural homes and businesses that are to get their first access to high-speed broadband under the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan by the end of December' (stock photo)

Workers can now count broadband as a tax-deductible utility for operating from home.

The Budget move comes just in time for the first tranche of 7,900 rural homes and businesses that are to get their first access to high-speed broadband under the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan by the end of December.

Next year, that figure will jump to 122,000 rural homes and businesses.

But the move may also recognise something more seismic - we may be in the middle of a permanent transition to home working, beyond the end of the current Covid crisis.

Last week, Microsoft and Indeed, which employ more than 3,000 people in Dublin between them, announced that staff can now work from home for good, even when the pandemic subsides.

Other major employers are expected to follow.

It's likely that by Christmas, firms employing well over 100,000 people will have adopted a new 'hybrid' working policy with a substantial portion of employees.

This means that homes will now be relying on critical broadband for more than Netflix, social media and web browsing. Core company and employee systems will now be run from kitchens, studies, bedrooms and home offices.

It's possible that vital college studies might also be thrown into this mix amid further waves of the virus.

They will need to be able to depend on reliable broadband that is shared with others.

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Meanwhile, five organisations representing the indigenous technology sector welcomed the Government's Budget move to establish a proposed new equity fund with an initial €30m in funding to invest in domestic "high innovation" enterprises. The five - Euronext, Salce Ireland, TechIreland, HBAN (Halo Business Angel Network) and Irish Venture Capital Association - also praised the decision by the minister to review the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme, which is seen as pivotal for start-ups.

Elsewhere, the Government's funding nod to the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) was welcomed by Helen Dixon's office - but was described by some data protection campaigners as insufficient.

The DPC's budget will increase next year by 13pc from €16.9m to €19.1m.

Ms Dixon says that her office will use the extra cash "to continue with key strategic projects, such as the completion of a new Case Management System and further development of our ICT infrastructure".

While Ms Dixon and others in her office may be being diplomatic about it, the huge scale of the legal and regulatory events coming up in the next 12 months suggest that an extra €2m won't come close to adequate.


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