Tuesday 17 September 2019

Free GP care will be extended to seven and eight-year-olds in 2020


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Anne-Marie Walsh

The Taoiseach has revealed that free GP care will be extended to seven and eight-year-old children next year.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that free care for all children under 12 is to be phased in over three years following a €210m deal agreed with family doctors in April.

Children up to the age of six are already covered by an existing free scheme.

Leo Varadkar was speaking at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' biennial conference in Dublin and touched on a number of topics.

He warned that workers on average wages will end up paying more tax at the higher 40pc rate unless the Government revamps the "unfair" system.

Mr Varadkar also told union leaders that lower-paid staff, including hospital support workers involved in a pay dispute, will be hit by the marginal tax rate if they get the increases they want.

He defended the Government's tax strategy after it came in for strong criticism from union leaders yesterday.

Mr Varadkar said there is a low tax structure in Ireland but there is unfairness because people on modest to middle incomes pay some or a lot of their income at the higher tax rate.

"The average person over 25 working full time in Ireland earns €47,000 a year and pays quite a chunk of their income at the higher tax rate and we think that's unfair," he said.

"We want to get to a point where someone on the average wage doesn't pay any of their income at the higher tax rate and those who earn more pay less of their income at the highest tax rate."

He said if the Government does not do what he proposes, more and more people are going to end up paying the higher rate because pay increases over time.

Mr Varadkar said this includes not just doctors and nurses but those involved in the hospital support staff dispute. He said once the increases recommended in a job evaluation scheme they are demanding are implemented, those at the top of the pay scale will start paying the highest tax rate.

Irish Independent

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