IT WAS THE seventh austerity-filled Budget in a row, and despite some small concessions, it was as tough as any of its predecessors.
Ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin announced €2.5 billion worth of taxes and cuts in today’s Budget, with the Departments of Health and Social Protection bearing the brunt.
Here, in numbers, is a roundup of some of the measures announced today.
0 – Percentage change to income tax, the Universal Social Charge and VAT on consumer goods. Phew.
€2.50 - The cost per item in prescription charges, with a cap of €25 per family per month. The charge originally began as a levy of 50c in 2010.
9 – The number of drinking hours available between the announcement that the cost of a pint is going up by 10c and the introduction of said measure.
9 – The special reduced VAT rate for tourism, which is to be retained for next year after it proved successful.
10 cent – The increase in the cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes from midnight tonight. Bottles of wine will increase by 50 cent from tonight.
41 – The new higher single unified rate of tax on DIRT accounts.
€100 – The amount of money that new claimants of the dole aged 24 and under will receive each week from 1 January 2014.
130 - The percentage increase in the number of people receiving Jobseeker’s payments between 2008 and 2012 – working out at almost 200,000 people – according to Brendan Howlin in his speech.
€230 - The amount that maternity benefit is to be standardised at from January next year. The current rate lies between €217 and €262.
€850 – The amount of the Bereavement Grant, given to people based on their PRSI contributions, to help pay for a funeral. The payment is being abolished to save an estimated €17 million.
1,250 – The number of new classroom and resource teachers for the school system to be recruited in the coming years. Minister Howlin emphasised that class sizes will not be increased at either primary or post-primary level.
€37 million – The estimated cost of providing free GP care for all children aged 5 and under, in the Government’s first step towards providing universal free doctor care.
€44 million – The amount the Government says it will save by abolishing the telephone allowance for older people. The move has been criticised by groups representing older people who say it will make them more isolated and lonely.
€113 million – The amount of money Brendan Howlin estimates will be saved by a review of all medical cards to cancel any ineligible or redundant cards which people may have.
€150 million – The amount of money that Irish banks will have to contribute to the Exchequer every year under a new bank levy.
€290 million – The reduction in spending in the Department of Social Protection alone – the largest single area of public spending.
€500 million – The amount by which the public sector paybill is to be reduced next year – despite the fact that the Government said today it will be hiring in schools, hospitals and An Garda Síochána.
€2 billion – The amount that NAMA will invest in the Irish commercial property market over the next few years.
€2.5 billion – The total amount the Government aimed to save through taxes and cuts in today’s Budget. The figure is a reduction on last year’s figure of €3.1 billion.
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