THE GOVERNMENT SENT out a bevy of mixed messages ahead of yesterday’s Budget 2014 announcement.
We would be astounded at the good news, they said, while also warning that it would be tough. Both are true…depending on which category you fall into.
For bad or good, these particular groups are going to be particularly affected.
A famously strong lobby group meant that farmers were hit with no nasty surprises yesterday. There were no harsh cuts or changes to schemes for disadvantaged areas. There was also an annoucement of a €40 million investment in the beef sector, a small increase in the farmers’ flat rate addition and the extension of the Capital Gains Tax retirement relief to encourage long-term leasing of land from older to younger farmers. Image: Fran Marshall/Irish Farmers Calendar
LOSING: Smokers and drinkers
From midnight yesterday, cigarette packets increased in price by 10 cent, while beer, wine and spirits were hit with an extra 10 cent levy. And wine lovers were dismayed at another 50 cent per bottle levy on red, white and rosé. Did you know that sparkling wine is charged at a higher excise rate so the extra levy will mean an extra 81 cent on your cava and prosecco? Image: AMC
No petrol, diesel or motor tax increases. A rare day of peace for motorists. (Image: Byron Rollins/AP/Press Association Images)
LOSING: Irish Sport
Ireland’s sports people – professional and amateur – will be disappointed that funding levels for sport is back to 2006 levels and amounts to just €8.73 per citizen. Image: Mark Stedman
To encourage airlines to boost routes and traffic, the Air Travel Tax was scrapped – Ryanair was dead happy about it. (Image: Richard Drew/AP/Press Association Images)
Maternity benefit will be standarised to €230 per week for new claimants from January. Currently, it lies between €217 – €262 for women so it will mean a substantial monthly drop for many. Separated parents who share custody will also have less money. (Image: Mark Stedman)
The home renovation incentive scheme should encourage people to hire tradesmen to help them carry out home improvements worth between €5,000 and €30,000 over the next two years. Construction groups also noted that it will hurt those tax-dodging cowboys. (Image: Shutterstock)
LOSING: Medical Card Holders and Pensioners
The prescription levy has increased to €2.50 per item (remember when the initial 50c was controversial?), the threshold for medical cards has been lowered to just €500 for single people…and the abolition of the Bereavement Grant has people asking do we now need to ‘die within our means’? Fianna Fáil said that even the dead aren’t safe from this government. (Image: Photocall Ireland)
WINNING: Multinationals in Ireland
The corporation tax rate is here to stay. Queue whoops from Google, Intel, Pfizer et al. Nati Harnik/AP/Press Association Images
LOSING: The world’s poor
Aid agencies have said that this Budget affects the poorest people in the world as Irish Aid funding was cut by €14 million. A sixth successive year of cuts means Irish Aid has seen its funding fall almost 35 per cent since 2008, according to Plan Ireland. (Image: A malnourished child cries at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya. Schalk van Zuydam/AP/Press Association Images)
WINNING: School Principals
They may not place themselves in the winning category but after years of headaches, this Budget brings some respite in the form of an extra 1,250 classroom and resource teachers and €5 million to extend the reach of the books to rent programme in primary schools. There was also a promise not to increase class sizes.
LOSING: Young jobseekers
More dole cuts are on the way for those under the age of 26. Sinn Féin believes this Budget guaranteed one thing…and that’s emigration. (Image: Photocall Ireland)
Another group that would not necessarily put themselves in the ‘winning’ bracket but the idea of the free GP care for under 5s is supposed to give more access to those who find money a barrier to visiting the doctor. But the GPs will still be paid for those visits – making them busier and more active in areas they need to be. (Image: HARVEY GEORGES/AP/Press Association Images)
LOSING: Third-Level Institutes
It’s been a tough few years for Ireland’s third level instituations as they slide down international ranking systems. Today won’t have done much to cheer them up as they saw another €25 million disappear from their yearly income. (Image: Joel Tegerdine/Press Association Images
Budget 2014: the key things to know from today’s announcement