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Budget 2023: Once-off €1,100 pension boost among last-minute giveaways as social welfare rises €12 and 430,000 more get GP cards

  • Big-ticket measure in today’s Budget set to be €600 electricity credit to be applied on all bills in three instalments
  • Fuel allowance eligibility expected to be extended to 80,000 more people
  • Elderly, carers, disabled to receive extra lump sums as welfare rates go up €12
  • Major expansion in GP visit card scheme bringing in 430,000 extra patients
  • Third-level fees cut by €1,000 this year with once-off double student grant
  • Extra €2.5m to support the Irish summer colleges sector
  • The double child benefit payment will be paid to all qualifying parents on November 1
  • Zero Vat rate for newspapers

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Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys arrives at Government Buildings. Photo: Frank McGrath

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys arrives at Government Buildings. Photo: Frank McGrath

Student grants will increase by between 10pc and 14pc, depending on how much their family earns. Photo: Stock image

Student grants will increase by between 10pc and 14pc, depending on how much their family earns. Photo: Stock image

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Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys arrives at Government Buildings. Photo: Frank McGrath

Pensioners are in line for one-off payments of up to €1,100 before the end of the year under a series of last minute social welfare spending measures agreed by the Coalition.

A double payment of the €253-per-week state pension will be paid twice in the coming months – once soon after the Budget and then again in December.

Pensioners in receipt of the Living Alone allowance will receive a separate €200 payment, while those claiming the Fuel Allowance are in line for a once-off €400 lump sum on top of their usual rate.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys also struck a deal which will see the Fuel Allowance scheme extended to up to 80,000 people who currently do not qualify for the payment.

This will mean around 450,000 people will be able to claim the welfare payment over the coming months.

Ms Humphreys also secured a €12-per-week increase in all social welfare rates in the new year, along with a special once-off €500 payment for carers and people with disabilities this year.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly received funding for a major expansion of the GP visit card scheme. More than 430,000 people will become eligible for the first time for the means-tested scheme once changes to income limits are enacted after the Budget.

The moves means around 2.5 million people, or half the population of the country, will have access to a free GP visit card or medical card. It is part of the minister’s plan to introduce universal healthcare.

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The measures for older and vulnerable people are key items in an almost €10bn Budget to be announced today as the Government battles to address the escalating cost-of-living crisis that has hit almost every household in the country.

Irish colleges

Sports and Gaeltacht Minister Jack Chambers has secured an extra €2.5m to support the Irish summer colleges sector.

This includes a 10pc increase in the subsidy per child for Mná Tí, who provide meals and accommodation for Irish students.

There is also a trebling of the grant for households who decide to accommodate students for the first time, from €2,000 to €6,000, and increased funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta and Foras na Gaeilge.

Mr Chambers has also secured €8m for a new coaching fund, that will support High Performance athletes in the run up to the Paris Olympics and Paralympics in 2024, and increase participation opportunities for everyone, particularly those with disabilities.

Cost-of-living package

The massive Budget Day package will aim to alleviate the financial burden experienced by millions of families by cutting state fees for health and education while also significantly increasing welfare payments and reducing income taxes.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath will reveal details of more than €7bn in new spending measures and tax cuts for the year ahead.

Mr McGrath will separately detail the new cost-of-living package which will feature a series of one-off spending measures to help people struggling to pay bills due to record levels of inflation.

The centrepiece of the cost-of-living package will be the introduction of a €600 electricity credit taken off energy bills in three instalments over the coming months.

Parents are also set to benefit from a double payment of the monthly Child Benefit which will be worth €840 to a family with three children.

There will also be a two double payments of welfare rates between now and the end of the year.

The overall cost-of-living package will be €4.1bn, including €1.4bn allocated to the new Business Energy Support Scheme (BESS).

Under BESS, businesses will be able to avail of grants of up to €10,000 per month per premises to help with their energy costs, subject to meeting certain criteria.

The Government will put €2bn of the exchequer surplus into a new reserve fund and €4 billion is earmarked for the fund next year.

The double child benefit payment will be paid to all qualifying parents on November 1.

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Student grants will increase by between 10pc and 14pc, depending on how much their family earns. Photo: Stock image

Student grants will increase by between 10pc and 14pc, depending on how much their family earns. Photo: Stock image

Student grants will increase by between 10pc and 14pc, depending on how much their family earns. Photo: Stock image

Students

In addition to a reduction in third-level fees of €1,000, students will also benefit from a once-off double grant payment.

Student grants will also increase in January between 10pc and 14pc depending on how much their family earns. Families on lower incomes stand to receive an extra €856 next year. The total package for students will come to €148m.

Around 10,250 students from the poorest households will see their Susi grant increase by €856 per year.

A total of 15,716 students will benefit from a €450 increase in the rate paid to those based more than 30km from their college.

The permanent reduction of €500 in the student contribution fee will apply to households earning between €62,000 and €100,000 per year.

For households earning between €55,240 and €62,000 per year, their student contribution fee will capped at €1,500.

Taxation

Mr Donohoe is expected to reveal that the top rate of tax at 40pc will only apply to income above €40,000 when changes to tax bands come into effect in the new year.

The personal tax credit will rise from €1,700 to €1,775, while the employee tax credit and the earned income tax credit will both increase by the same amount.

The tax changes are set to save single people around €800 a year and couples €1,600.

Landlords will not see the tax they pay on rental income reduced but will be able to claim more from pre-letting expenses.

The current €5,000 limit on the amount of tax relief landlords can claim on pre-letting expenses will double to €10,000

The second USC band is set to be increased to €10,908 from €9,283 due to the increase in the minimum wage.

Personal tax credits for carers will also increase by €100 to €1,700.

Businesses

Meanwhile, businesses will get up to €10,000 a month paid in their electricity or gas bills as part of a €1bn scheme.

Small to medium enterprises will have 40pc of their increases in electricity or gas bills paid up to a maximum of €10,000 per month.

Newspapers

In a last-minute move, newspapers will be zero-rated for Vat in today’s speech.

Officials had been suggesting that the move would be too late for today’s package. But it was confirmed this morning.

The abolishment of Vat on newspapers will also apply to digital editions and subscriptions.

Defence forces

The country’s defence budget is set to be more than €1.1bn next year as Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney seeks to address shortfalls in funding in the Defence Forces.

This will includes €176m on building projects at barracks, new vessels for the navy, new aircraft for the Air Corps and more armoured vehicles for the Army.

Agriculture

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue will announce a new suckler scheme with a similar level of funding to the €28m Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme for sucklers. This new scheme will sit alongside the new €150-per-cow Suckler Carbon Efficiency Scheme in the new Common Agricultural Policy (Cap).

He has also secured funding for a new Fodder Support Scheme which will pay farmers up to €1,000 to save hay and fodder in 2023.

Funding has been secured for 30,000 places in an Agri-climate Rural Environmental Scheme for 2023, and there will also be extra funding for farm modernisation supports through the TAMS programme.

There will also be specific capital funding to support the development of anaerobic digestion in 2023, plus the introduction of a new €8m grant-aid scheme to support the spreading of lime.

This is as well as the new €10m Tillage Incentive Scheme. Farmers will also be part of the energy price support scheme promised to support businesses, with payments likely to be based on their energy usage.

Health

The extension of free GP care to 430,000 more people will see around 70,000 children aged six and sevem become eligible for free doctor visits by the end of the year under a measure that was already announced in last year's Budget.

In addition, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly intends to have some 360,000 adults and children in low-income homes become eligible for a free GP visit card by 1 April next year. Qualifying for the scheme will depend on household income and the number of dependants.

There is also €10m being allocated for publicly funded IVF in 2023. including money to subsidise private IVF and the development of public clinics.


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