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Budget 2020: Winners and losers

Every Budget brings good news and bad news.

Image: Shutterstock/RollingNews.ie

PASCHAL DONOHOE TODAY announced Budget 2020 and with measures including a carbon tax increase and a no-deal Brexit fund, it’s already generating plenty of reaction. 

But who were the winners and losers from today’s Budget. We’ve tried to break it down. 

Winners

The government’s green credentials: Ireland may be a self-confessed laggard when it comes to climate change, but the government succeeded in wrapping itself in green during the Budget by boasting a carbon tax increase

It might be be controversial (see the Losers section) but it could be enough to allow Fine Gael to burnish its climate change bona fides at the next election. 

Electric car drivers: If you’ve already ditched diesel and petrol, this was a Budget for you. The government promised €3 million for better electric vehicle infrastructure, so we can expect more charging points in the next year. 

Parents: There were some positives for parents today. Free GP care for children under eight and free dental care for children under six will be welcome to many, while a €15 increase in the weekly disregard for the One Parent Family payment was also a plus. 

Businesses affected by Brexit: “Vulnerable but viable” might sound like a medical diagnosis, but at least businesses and farmers know that the government is paying attention to their worries about Brexit. A €650 million fund available for agriculture, enterprise and tourism, as well as €110 million committed to firms affected by Brexit, might offer businesses worried about 31 October some reassurance. 

Corporations: Once again, that 12.5% rate of corporation tax isn’t going anywhere. 

Green Party: Eamon Ryan might not be back in government yet, but the influence of the Green Party (with its total of two TDs) was written all over this Budget. The European elections in May might seem like ancient history, but the fact this Budget was being pitched as the “climate change Budget” is a testament to the influence the party is currently wielding over the direction – if not the pace – of government policy. 

Losers

Renters: There wasn’t much in the Budget at all today to give renters reason for cheer. Donohoe did announce an extra €2 million to the Residential Tenancies Board to ensure rent-pressure zone measures are properly enforced, but there was nothing much else for people to celebrate. 

GREEN 108_90581691 Imitation is the best form of flattery - the language of the Green Party was all over Budget 2020. Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Low earners: “This will not be easy for everyone,” Donohoe said as he announced the carbon tax increase. Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and other critics have long questioned the logic of a carbon tax, which they say will hit the poorest the hardest – a claim that is backed up by the ESRI. All eyes will now be on the government to assess whether it follows up with funding to ensure low earners are not adversely affected. 

The fact that there was no increase in the minimum wage will also do little to dispel the notion that low-income earners lost out in this Budget.

Smokers: Will smokers ever be winners in a Budget? It’s certainly unlikely. This year, a pack of cigarettes is increased 50 cent. 

Climate change activists: There was nothing hugely radical in the Budget today to combat climate change. Extinction Rebellion, who have been protesting outside the Dáil this evening, will have seen little to reassure them that the government is committed to drastic action. Worse, the debate about the carbon tax is threatening to obscure wider discussion around Irish climate policy. 

Neutral

Fianna Fáil is now well-used to being accused by Sinn Féin of propping up the government, so the attacks today are unlikely to faze the party – especially as an election looks inevitable in the next 12 months. 

It didn’t get the €5 increase in social welfare it was asking for, but the largest opposition party had little to complain about today – especially when the Budget proved this uncontroversial. 

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