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Thursday 12 December 2019

Tax break for workers could be on the card in Budget 2015

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Sarah Stack

Workers could have up to €10 a week extra in their pay packets after the next budget, a Cabinet minister has revealed.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said ‘relatively modest’ tax reforms may be implemented in the next budget but warned they should not be at the expense of services.

Mr Varadkar admitted he will be forced to ask for a supplementary budget to address the HSE overspend of €500m this year, but had not yet tackled next year’s allocation or how it might affect other areas of Budget 2015.

“I don’t think that people would welcome an increase in take home pay if it came at the expense of health services,” he said.

“Whatever tax package happens it’s going to be relatively modest.

“It might be an extra €5 or €10 in your pay slip every week and that would be very welcome and I think people would like to see that  because I think it would be real evidence that the economy is recovering. It will also help to boost the economy itself by increasing demand.

“But I think people wouldn’t like that to happen if it came at the expense of health services and the services to those most at need in society,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

The health minister said while HSE overspend was due to more people using the health service, but he admitted the timeframe for the reform of the health service had been ”very ambitious” from the start and that it would not be possible to get rid of the HSE structure this year.

He said he wanted to concentrate on reforms to develop hospital groups and improve GP practices, but would not put a deadline on when free GP care for children under six would be available.

Meanwhile Brendan Howlin said the country’s finances have improved significantly since April.

“I think it will be a broadly neutral budget, so if there’s to be additional spending in one sector we’ll reduce expenditure somewhere else,” said the minister for public expenditure.

“Leo is working on a plan for the timeline – he is planning to have an improved primary health system, have universal GP cover and not people going into A&E but to have really good quality primary care.”

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