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People watching the Budget coverage in Buswells Hotel in Dublin Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
AS IT HAPPENED

As it happened: Budget 2024 confirmed tax & USC changes and a significant cigarette price hike

The Finance Minister said Budget 2024 has been “framed against the backdrop of considerable global uncertainty”.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 10th 2023, 10:40 PM

AFTER WEEKS OF talks and speculation, Budget day has come to an end. 

Here are some of the main points: 

You can also find out exactly how all of the changes will affect you by using our Budget Calculator

Here’s how the day played out:

Good morning and welcome to The Journal‘s liveblog of Budget 2024. We’ll be taking you through all of the updates this morning as well as the main announcement this afternoon.

Before then, let’s take you through what we know so far. 

This is Michael McGrath’s first Budget speech as the Minister for Finance.

He will deliver his speech at 1pm, followed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe at 1.45pm. The speeches are expected to conclude at 2.30pm

After the speeches, opposition parties will reply with their own views on what has been unveiled. As the main opposition party, Sinn Féin will get an hour in reply, with the other opposition parties and groupings getting 45 minutes each.

The speeches should be done by 8pm, and any Dáil debate on any overnight financial resolutions will take place from between 8.30pm to midnight. 

The Budget package is expected to cost around €6.4 billion this year, including taxation measures worth €1.1 billion.

As it happens, we already know quite a lot of what today’s big announcement will contain, with various measures having been leaked ahead of today.

The social welfare package is one that many will be keeping an eye on today. 

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys says the government will support pensioners, carers, people with disabilities and working families by dishing out lump sum cost of living payments totaling over €1.2 billion.

Social welfare recipients will get the usual Christmas bonus, followed by an additional payment in January. This will amount to an extra:

  • €140 (double) for Child Benefit
  • €100 for the Qualified Child Bonus
  • €200 for the Living Alone Allowance
  • €400 for the Carers Support Grant
  • €400 for the Disability Support Grant
  • €400 for the Working Family Payment
  • €300 for the Fuel Allowance

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe was seen heading into work earlier this morning. 

Speaking to reporters, he said this year’s Budget is different to what was delivered last year, but that “any Budget that contains this degree of spending could hardly be considered conservative”. 

The Budget is also set to include a new grants scheme for small and medium-sized businesses.

The scheme, which will be called the Increased Cost of Business Scheme (ICOB), will be for all costs, not just energy.

It will be awarded based on a percentage of the rates the business in question paid in commercial rates in 2023.

Nowadays, it’s not unusual for us to know what the Budget will contain days or sometimes weeks ahead of time.

But back in 1995, Junior Minister Phil Hogan resigned from his position when his advisor leaked details about that year’s budget to the media. 

Screenshot (387) Then-Junior Minister Phil Hogan. RTÉ RTÉ

You can watch an RTÉ News report from the time here

Budget 2024-11 Garda Commissioner Drew Harris entering the gate outside Leinster House. Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is seen at Leinster House this morning as the security operation for Government buildings comes into effect.

A garda cordon will be in place around the Dáil and other Government buildings today, with around 200 personnel set to be deployed. 

It comes after 13 people were arrested on the first day of the Dáil being back in session last month during protests that became aggressive and hostile.

Budget 2024-7 Garda presence on Kildare Street this morning. Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie

There are also road closures in place on Kildare Street, Molesworth Street and Merrion Square until 2am tomorrow night.

You can read more about the policing plan in this article from our reporter Eimer McAuley. 

The Budget is also set to contain a ‘Climate and Nature Fund’, which will set aside €3 billion to invest in climate and nature projects between 2026 and 2030. 

The fund is one of the first of its kind in the world and aims to ensure that investment in crucial environmental projects will be prioritised in the years to come.

The total €3.15 billion allocation is in addition to funding already earmarked for climate and nature in the National Development Plan. 

While the exact projects that will be funded have not yet been decided, it’s expected that the focus will be on projects that help cut Ireland’s use of fossil fuels, make public and private building stock more energy efficient, restore natural habitats, improve water quality in rivers and lakes, reintroduce once-common species such as eagles and osprey and remove river barriers that stop fish swimming upstream.

It’s understood that the recent announcement of a new national park in Dowth, Co Meath is one example of the type of project that could be supported by the fund. 

A government source said that by putting this money aside, the State will avoid overheating the economy at a time of high growth, while ensuring it has funds kept aside that it can use to build vital infrastructure and maintain employment in the event of another downturn.

They said Ireland cannot afford to lose any further time in the battle against climate change and nature loss.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will be “a particular focus on the cost of living” in this year’s Budget package. 

Speaking to reporters outside Leinster House this morning, he said it will be “mainly good news” with a “significant income tax and USC package”. 

He also said there will be help for small businesses and farmers, while the social welfare package will have a particular focus on children and families. 

Leinster House-5 Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie

The Budget is set to include a number of measures for gardaí.

Gardaí trainee allowance will rise from €185 per week to €305 per week, in a bid to recruit and retain gardaí in the force. The change will kick in from today.  

While the increased payments will begin on 1 January, those in training between Budget day and the new year will receive a backdated lump payment for this period in January.

Other measures include: 

  • Increased budget to hit target of 800 to 1,000 new recruits next year
  • A 25% increase – up from €105 million to €131 million – in Garda overtime to support high visibility policing to tackle anti-social behaviour in towns and cities
  • €4m provided for Garda Wellbeing Initiatives and medical costs to support the men and women serving in An Garda Síochána
  • A new national centre of excellence for the expanded Garda Dog Unit in Dublin, with the expansion to all Garda regions on a phased basis involving 50 handlers with access to 100 dogs
  • Providing funding for CCTV, bodycams, body armour, mountain bikes and public order equipment
  • Funding to provide for the first Garda Reserve recruitment campaign since 2017 – this will open early next year

While significant measures are being announced in the Budget for gardaí, a number of other announcements will be made in the Justice area. They include: 

  • €12 million increase in funding to tackle Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence and establish a new agency next year
  • €9 million to increase fees for criminal legal aid by 10% in 2024 to make progress in restoring criminal legal aid fees
  • Following the Budget, more work will be undertaken with the legal profession on further strengthening criminal legal aid

The education sector will see some benefits from today’s Budget. 

As reported by The Journal on Sunday, Education Minister Norma Foley will roll out free school books up to junior cycle. 

Some other announcements to be announced include: 

  •  Student grants to increase by €300
  • Post-graduate students will be eligible for grant support of up to €2,300
  • Families with an income of less than €100,000 will have college fees for undergraduate students halved to €1,500 this year (this is on top of a €500 cut announced last years budget for this college year)
  • All other families will see college fees for full time undergraduate students cut by €1,000

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall has been out on the plinth speaking this morning. 

In terms of housing-related measures set to be announced today, here’s what we know so far: 

  • Rent credit increased to €750 
  • Landlord tax break described as ‘modest’ – could see tax relief of up to 20% off a proportion of their rental income, but this measure would be linked to landlord staying in the market for a certain period
  • Mortgage interest relief will also be announced for homeowners who have been badly hit by rate hikes. Around 160,000 mortgage holders will benefit from time limited relief worth €1,250

An update from gardaí here: 

Here’s some more of what we know about today’s Budget announcement so far: 

Cost-of-living measures

  • Electricity credits amounting to €450
  • Double child benefit payment
  • Double fuel allowance payment
  • Delay in October’s excise restoration on diesel and petrol

Tax measures 

  • Cut to lowest 2% of USC
  • Increase in the entry point to the higher rate of income tax to around €42,000
  • ‘Slight’ PRSI increase

Other measures 

  • 50c increase on cigarettes
  • New tax on vaping to be announced 
  • No further public transport fare reductions

Child Benefit payments are expected to be extended in the Budget to those aged over 18 who are still in secondary school.

This was flagged back in September at Fine Gael’s think in. 

Hello there, Rónán Duffy here to take you through the first half of this Budegt afternoon. 

We’ll have all the important announcements and the no-so-important ones too. 

Like Minister for Public Expenditure’s tie selection. 

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There they are now, the two lads. 

Michael McGrath goes for the red tie. He delivers the first budget by a Fianna Fáil Finance Minister since 2010. 

179Budget Day

McGrath’s wife and his seven children have taken their seats in the distinguished guests gallery – the youngest is holding her teddy bear. 

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There’s your annual Finnance Minister stnding in the Dáil shot. 

“By any measure, Ireland is a modern, successful country, but we know we can do better and we will,” McGrath says.

Today I am announcing two new funds. The Future Ireland Fund, with a potential to grow to over €100 billion by the middle of the next decade. It will help to protect living standards and public services for current and future generations.

“Separately €14 billion will be put aside in the Infrastructure Climate and Nature Fund by 2030.”

The Department of Finance with more on this fund. 

McGrath mentions “unprecedented challenges” including “Brexit, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.”

He adds: “Budget 2024 has been framed against the backdrop of considerable global uncertainty for economic and increasingly geopolitical.”

McGrath’s announcement of the Future Ireland Fund sees us join the likes of Norway and Saudi Arabia with sovereign wealth funds. 

The idea is to have somewhere to house corporation tax receipts.

Some tax changes confirmed now:

Increase of €2000 in income tax standard rate cut off point for all earners; €100 increase is personal tax credit; €100 increase in paye tax credit.

VAT reduction extended

McGrath: “An extension of the temporary reduction in the rate of VAT from 13.5% to 9% on the supply of gas and electricity for a further 12 months.”

On to houses now. 

Extending Help to Buy Scheme to 2025

I intend to extend to Help to Buy scheme to the end of 2025, and we’ll consider across next year if any changes are required to the cheme.

Change to it here:

Some people availing of the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme have found that they do not qualify for the Help to Buy scheme under the current rules. Therefore, I am amending the scheme to ensure that applicants of the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme can avail of Help to Buy.

Rent Tax Credit  

McGrath says the Rent Tax Credit would be increased from €500 to €750 per year in 2024.

He said an amendment would be made to allow parents who pay for student children to have tenancies in “rent a room” accommodation to claim the Rent Tax Credit.

Universal Social Charge 

The Universal Social Charge is reducing from 4.5% to 4% – the first reduction in USC in five years. It will cost €400 million for a full year.

It’s the first percentage change in five years but there has been some movements on the bands in recent years. 

Minimum wage will also increase by €1.40 an hour to €12.70 an hour from January 1.

As well as the increase in the Rent Tax Credit, it will be amended to include parents who pay for their student children who have tenancies in ‘Rent a Room’ or ‘digs’ accommodation. 

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Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs study the Budget documents.

Tax relief for landlords

A temporary tax relief to benefit small landlords will be introduced.

This would see rental income of €3,000 for 2024, €4,000 for 2025, and €5,000 for 2026 and 2027 disregarded at the standard rate – as long as landlords stay in the market for that full four-year period.

The minister said he would increase the Vacant Homes Tax to five times the existing basic Local Property Tax rate.

On the Residential Zoned Land Tax, he said he was extending the liability date of the tax by one year to allow for the planned review of the RZLT maps to take place in 2024.

CIGARETTES UP BY 75c

“This will bring the price of cigarettes in the most popular price category to €16.75.”

VAPES TAX TO COME IN NEXT YEAR

“I am proposing to introduce a domestic tax on these products in next year’s purchase,” McGrath says. 

He adds that “considerable preparatory work” needs to be done before it is introduced. 

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For the first time in eight years Paschal Donohoe is not delivering the main Budget speech. he’s up second now as Minister for Public Expenditure

Social welfare

He has confirmed various lump sums for social welfare recipients.

This includes two double payments for social protection recipients: a Christmas Bonus in December and a Cost of Living support in January, going to pensioners, carers and jobseekers.

A €400 lump sum payment is due to those who receive the carer’s support grant, the disability allowance, the blind pension, the invalidity pension and domiciliary care allowance.

The double Child Payment, worth an extra €140, will be paid to qualifying households by Christmas and there will be a double Foster Care allowance.

Donohoe said the Budget aimed to build a better future and make sure that Ireland is “one of the best places to be a child”.

He said that ending child poverty was “a core ambition” of the Government and a plan to end child poverty had been published.

He said €1 million had been allocated to the Central Statistics Office for the Growing Up in Ireland survey.

He also announced several permanent changes to social protection payments with the aim of helping children.

The Qualified Child Increase is to rise by €4 to €46 per week for under 12-year-olds and to €54 per week for over 12-year-olds.

The hot school meals programme is to be extended to a further 900 primary schools in April and parents benefit is to be extended to nine weeks from August.

The monthly Domiciliary Care allowance is to increase by €10 and Child Benefit is to be extended to 18-year-olds in full-time education.

Cut in creche costs announced for September 2024

A 25% reduction in the cost of childcare at creches and other facilities subsidised through the government’s National Childcare Scheme will be introduced in September 2024. 

The increase in government subsidies to the sector, matching a similar measure introduced last year, will benefit the families of well over 100,000 children who are cared for in creches, after-school schemes and other facilities that receive government funding.

However, the measure will be introduced nine months later than the 2023 reduction in childcare costs, which kicked in last January.

Something that’s already been picked up by the opposition. 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT FARES

river (3) SAM BOAL / ROLLINGNEWS.IE SAM BOAL / ROLLINGNEWS.IE / ROLLINGNEWS.IE

People under the age of 26 will now be eligible for reduced public transport fares, Donohoe confirms

Previously, the Young Adult Leap Card was only available for people up to the age of 23. The card entitles young people to 50% off public transport fees.

This has now been extended to 23- and 24-year-olds.

JUNIOR CYCLE SCHOOL BOOKS

Junior Cycle Students will receive free school books next year as part of the Government’s 2024 Budget, Donohoe has said. 

The expansion of the scheme follows the one originally announced in the Government’s last budget, which made schoolbooks free for primary school students.

The provision of free schoolbooks has been lobbied for by parents groups and charities for years and the limiting of the scheme to only primary level students last time round was met with frustration and confusion following its announcement last September.  

FOREIGN AID

Donohoe said he was providing €776.5 million in funding Irish Aid within the Department of Foreign Affairs.

This is an 8.4% increase on last year, meaning Overseas Development Assistance will reach “record high levels”, he said. 

NORTHERN IRELAND

Donohoe said €1.1 billion would be invested in projects that support “shared peace and prosperity” across Northern Ireland as part of the Peaceplus programme, which was announced last month.

Hello, hello, Hayley Halpin here to take over from Rónán Duffy for the next while. 

ENERGY CREDITS

Households will receive €450 in energy credits over the coming winter months as part of today’s budget. 

All households will receive three credits of €150 each between the end of this year and next April.

Meanwhile a €300 lump sum payment will be made to recipients of the Fuel Allowance in the last quarter of this year. 

On top of this, an additional €200 will be paid to recipients of the Living Alone Allowance. 

Today’s announcement is the third round of energy credits announced by government since prices spiked in 2021. 

In last year’s budget, households were given energy credits worth a total of €600.

GAS AND ELECTRICITY

The temporary reduction in the VAT rate on gas and electricity (from 13.5% to 9%) will remain in place for another 12 months. 

According to Minister McGrath this will save consumers an additional €90 for those on electricity and those who use gas will save an additional €62 during the 12-month extension.

The VAT rate on audio books and e-books will be reduced to zero from 1 January, McGrath confirms.

“An issue which has been regularly raised with me is the VAT treatment of audio books and eBooks,” told the Dáil.

“eBooks are currently subject to a VAT rate of 9%, unlike printed books, which are zero-rated. Audio books are not currently included in the VAT zero-rating. Consequently, I intend zero-rating these items from 1 January 2024.”

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Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has been delivering the party’s Budget response in the Dáil. 

He said the Government had failed to introduce measures to fix the housing crisis in its Budget.

Doherty said: “The number one issue facing workers and families is the housing crisis. It permeates every facet of Irish life.

“Young people left without hope, children growing up in emergency accommodation, businesses who can’t get workers, schools which can’t get teachers, garda, nurses, members of our defence forces leaving their profession because they can’t find somewhere to live.

“This should have been a budget to resolve the housing crisis but today Minister McGrath and Minister Donohoe have failed in that regard.

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have caused the housing crisis and today’s Budget is further confirmation that they are not the ones to fix it.”

Doherty has told the Dáil that housing crisis should have been the number one priority in the budget.

He said: 

We needed a budget for renters, instead we got a budget for landlords.”

He added: “The housing crisis is the government’s greatest failure and ending the housing crisis is Sinn Féin’s number one priority, delivering the biggest public housing programme in the history of the state is Sinn Féin’s number one priority.

“It needed to be the number one priority of this budget, but under this government entire generations have been locked out of home ownership, more than two-thirds of our young people are forced to live with their parents and more of them are reaching the conclusion that their future is not here, but elsewhere.”

Doherty said:

Shame on you for not changing course and setting a path to make things right in this budget.”

We have a Budget 2024 calculator you can use to find out how the announcements will affect you and your finances. 

UNIVERSITY FEES

Fees for university students are to be cut by €1000 as part of the Government’s 2024 budget.

The reduction in student contribution fees, often called registration fees, is a once-off measure, Donohoe said. 

“I am… providing a once off reduction of the student contribution fee by €1,000 for free fees students.” 

Back to the Dáil.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the Budget had done “next to nothing” for the health service.

“There is very little in this Budget that will give any comfort to patients or parents who are struggling to get access to basic health and basic care services,” he said.

No urgency, no vision, no compassion, and that’s the reality. You’ve just decided to forget about health.

“You fail time and time again to invest in the workforce and to plan for the future.

“And today the government boasts about record tax revenues, yet you’ve delivered a standstill budget for health.”

Minister Heather Humphries is holding a press conference on the social protection measures announced in the Budget. 

Reporter Eimer McAuley is attending. 

Some reaction to the measures announced in today’s Budget… 

Energy 

The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) has said that while Budget 2024 contains some welcome measures the commitments to address climate change lack urgency and fail to deliver meaningful action.

Climate

Green MEP Ciarán Cuffe has described the Climate and Nature Fund announced in today’s budget as a ‘game-changer’.

“This fund will deliver vital investment into measures that will not only protect Ireland against the worst impact of climate change, but also deliver tangible improvements to the quality of life of people living across our island. For urban areas such as Dublin and rural communities alike, it means cleaner air and water for residents and lower energy bills and warmer homes, with more funded retrofits for the people who need them most.”

Social welfare

Inclusion Ireland has labelled the €12 increase in disability and carers allowance “a disturbing blow to human rights” for those with a disability. 

“Tokenistic once-off payments ignore the plight of exclusion and inequality that exists in Ireland today. Budget 2024 has abandoned disabled people living well below the poverty line, and marginalised carers already carrying the weight of broken systems.” 

NATIONAL SECURITY

The national security budget will see funding for 1,000 garda recruits and a major €25 million increase in the garda budget to meet overtime demands along with an increase in Defence spending. 

The garda funding increase is included in a package of €172 million in 2024 for the whole Justice sector.

Garda recruits will see an increase in their training allowance – bringing it up from €184 to €305.

The Defence allocation for 2024 will be €1.23 billion – Donohoe said that this was an additional €21 million on current expenditure and an additional €34 million in capital expenditure compared to the original capital ceiling included in the National Development Plan.

In reaction to the rent relief measures announced today…

Threshold has welcomed the increase and expansion of the rent tax credit. The credit was increased to €750 and was extended to parents of students in rent-a-room or ‘digs’ style accommodation in today’s announcement, who can also claim for 2022 and 2023.

The national housing agency added that it hopes the measure can “form part of a wider cohesive approach to end the housing supply crisis”.

Landlords will be entitled to have rental income of up to €3,000 tax free at the standard rate (20%) in 2024. This will rise to €4,000 in 2025 and €5,000 for years 2026 and 2027. 

Threshold said the tax break “needs to translate into improved security of tenure”.

The move was marked as a “positive step in the right direction” by the Irish Property Owners Association, who represent landlords in Ireland.

However, the group added that tying the supports to the security of tenure leaves landlords with their “hands bound” and “fails to recognise the significant threat to the value of property assets”.

The housing package was described by Labour Party Leader Ivana Bacik as “nothing short of pathetic”, when relationships between tenants and landlords are volatile.

She added:

“It is fundamentally wrong that people paying rent will now be paying more tax on their income than landlords.”

Responding to the Budget immediately after it’s announcement, Sinn Féin’s Housing Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said: “We needed a budget for renters, instead we got a budget for landlords.”

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Jack Chambers are holding a press conference at the moment. 

Our political reporter Jane Matthews is attending. 

Homeless charity Focus Ireland has claimed the Government has failed to deliver a children’s budget to the nearly 4,000 children who are homeless. 

The charity has welcomed “broad” measures to help households cope with the cost-of-living crisis, and inflation but stressed more should have been done for those most at risk.

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Labour TD Ged Nash has described Budget 2024 as a “lazy rerun of all that was wrong with Budget 2023”.

“Tax cuts that favour the better off again. Failure to properly fund the public services on which we all rely, and which the citizens of this rich Republic should expect,” he said.

“Again, a wall of once-off payments, but no permanent change and once those once off payments are gone, they’re gone.

“The Budget that will yet again be found to be regressive once lump sum payments melt away like snow on a ditch.”

Nash also said that “performative tax cuts” would damage public services.

“What we need are performing public services,” he said.

“Wherever there is a tax cut, if not replaced by taxes elsewhere, is €1 less for the social wage, for schools or hospitals, childcare, for community safety.

“The kind of tax cuts that were presented today, that disproportionately favour the better off, are as fiscally unwise as they are socially damaging.”

Hospitality

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has today labelled Budget 2024 as a “missed opportunity” to security a sustainable future for Ireland’s restaurants, cafés and gastropubs. 

The Irish Hotels Federation also expressed “deep disappointment” with what it said is a lack of measures in Budget 2024 to address the soaring costs of doing business for tourism and hospitality.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland is urging Government to engage immediately with the hospitality sector to clarify what supports are now available for its members following the publication of Budget 2024.

HEALTH

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the Budget had done “next to nothing” for the health service.

“There is very little in this Budget that will give any comfort to patients or parents who are struggling to get access to basic health and basic care services,” he said.

“No urgency, no vision, no compassion, and that’s the reality. You’ve just decided to forget about health,” he said.

“There is no new funding for additional hospital beds, there’s less capital investment than was promised in the national development plan for health.

“In fact, the health capital budget wouldn’t even keep pace with inflation. It’s real time cuts that is actually happening to the health Service, which is a crying out for investment,” Doherty added.

Separately, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland labelled the budget a “backwards step for the provision of mental health treatment in this country”.

President of the college, Lorcan Martin said: “The College is disappointed to note that mental health funding has not increased in line with our recommendations, and meaningful connections between psychiatry and primary services have not been established.”

The Irish Heart Foundation said it welcomed the planned introduction of a tax on vaping products, but its director of advocacy, Chris Macey, insisted that the tax on vapes must be introduced now, rather than in next year’s Budget.

The Irish Medical Organisation has said the Budget was a missed opportunity to invest in the health services so that they are able to meet the needs of the Irish population. 

“The additional core funding increase is unlikely to maintain additional services let alone meet increased demand from a rapidly growing and ageing population, and increased complexities,” the IMO said. 

“Our health services never recovered sufficiently from years of austerity and today’s Budget measures will mean we face the ongoing challenge of trying to deliver care to patients in a service that has insufficient capacity.”

The Defence allocation for 2024 will be €1.23 billion – Donohoe said that this was an additional €21m on current expenditure and an additional €34m in capital expenditure compared to the original capital ceiling included in the National Development Plan.

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A spokesperson for the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers welcomed the increase but cautioned that “the devil is in the detail”.

“Announcements of a net increase of 400 military personnel ignore the fact that the training capacity to induct well over 1,000 people to achieve this target simply does not exist.

“Promised Naval Service retention measures such as increased Patrol Duty Allowance to address the apparent collapse of our seagoing capability have not materialised and this is a major concern for our members.

“Without significant retention initiatives, worryingly absent from this Budget, the Defence Forces cannot become an employer of choice and strive for the Level of Ambition urgently recommended by the Commission on the Defence Forces twenty months ago,” the spokeperson said.  

The rent tax credit is to rise to €750 next year. 

Moreover, the tax break will be extended to parents who pay the rent of their student children living in ‘digs’. This will be backdated to allow for claims to be made for the years 2022 and 2023.

The €250 increase comes one year after the tax break was first introduced to help people who “do not get any other housing supports”, then-Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said.

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Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall has said the Budget is “desperately short of ambition”.

“There was an opportunity with this Budget, given the resources, to do some transformative things to tackle the big problems facing the country and ensure that we are not again pulling up the ladder and passing on problems to the next generation to solve.

She added: “But instead we have a Budget that is desperately short of ambition.”

Shortall also said: “This government’s housing policy is a litany of failure. Every measure is designed to boost profit and increase costs. Nothing in this budget will change that.”

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has told a press conference that the Government’s National Childcare cost subsidy scheme will be extended to childminders from September of next year. 

Roisin Shortall said that the Government’s missed opportunity to tackle child poverty was the biggest failure of the budget.

“We know that child poverty doesn’t just contribute to bad outcomes, it has a direct and causal negative impact on children, particularly when it starts early in childhood and persists throughout,” she said.

“It affects everything emotional development, educational attainment, mental health, physical well being career opportunities, and income in later life.

“It destroys and limits lives. You, Minister representing the government, I have to say, you today had an opportunity to tackle that and ultimately eradicate it.

“You had the power to do that. But you failed to deploy that power.

Of all of your failures and missed opportunities, this will be the most damaging and amounts to the biggest failure of this budget.”

Mary Murphy, research officer with Age Action, writes: 

“As the details of Budget 2024 are revealed today, Age Action knows that many older people will be relieved to see that the state pension has been increased by more than a fiver. However, a €12 per week increase does not replace all the lost spending power on the pension from the steep inflation we have seen since 2020.

“The core rate of the pension would need to be increased by a further €19, on top of the €12, to have the same spending power it had in 2020.

“The lived experience of many older people is captured by one of our survey respondents saying, “we can’t live on what we’re getting from the government. Our pensions aren’t enough to cover anything and stuff keeps going up and up and up on us, we’re going to be hungry.”

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath tells our Political Editor Christina Finn that the €12 weekly increase in social welfare payments is “the appropriate amount” for 2024. 

“You have to see it alongside one-off payments as well,” he says. 

Inclusion Ireland has strongly criticised the Government’s measures on disability supports in Budget 2024, labelling them as ‘tokenistic’ and ‘a disturbing blow to human rights’. 

Minister Heather Humphreys announced a €2.3 billion Social Protection budget today, with some specific payments for carers.

As well as the across-the board €12 weekly increase to social welfare payments, there is also to be a disability and carers’ lump sum of €400 in November. 

The current rate of Disability Allowance is €232 per week and Inclusion Ireland has said that it should at least reach the poverty threshold as measured by charitable organisations of €291.50 per week.

Our Political Editor Christina Finn asked Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe if the €750 rent tax credit to be extended again going forward. 

Here’s what he said: 

Donohoe tells The Journal that the Government wants to and needs to make progress towards more affordable childcare. 

Homeless charity Depaul has welcomed the additional budgetary increases in housing commitments, but said more support for people in temporary accommodation is needed to avoid the worsening effects of the homelessness crisis

“The solution to homelessness is simple – people need homes and appropriate support,” Depaul’s chief executive David Carroll said. 

He said that while Depaul welcomes the capital funding allocated for housing, the charity “would have welcomed a greater increase in the amount of new social homes being built”.

“However, we would like to see a sizable proportion of the 9,300 proposed new social homes allocated to people in long term homelessness who will struggle otherwise to secure housing. Housing options for this cohort are among the most restricted,” he said.

The impact on children in temporary accommodation is particularly concerning. We can expect to see a population of people ageing prematurely and presenting with deteriorating health conditions.”

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said he is satisfied the Government has gotten the balance right between supports for landlords and supports for renters. 

271Budget Day Press Conferences Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman with Minister of State Anne Rabbitte at a press conference this afternoon Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie

Families with children in Direct Provision will not be getting access to Child Benefit payments under measures introduced in Budget 2024. 

Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O’Gorman said that his department has secured €4.8 million in funding for “anti-poverty measures” aimed at supporting children in direct provision, but he said that he is not in a position to say exactly what the funding will be spent on. 

O’Gorman said that he will be meeting with officials to discuss how the funding will be allocated, and that when he met with stakeholders including the Children’s Rights Alliance two weeks ago, “the issue of Child Benefit payments for families in Direct Provision was the foremost issue we discussed”. 

He said that the funding will in part go towards continuing existing efforts – including the work done by family support workers who work with international protection applicants. 

The last Budget press conference of the day is being held at Government Buildings soon with Finance Minister Michael McGrath and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe. 

Our Political Editor Christina Finn will be attending. 

Donohoe has said the situation regarding RTÉ “is completely unchanged”.

Speaking at the post-Budget press conference at Government Buildings, Donohoe said Government will be making a payment to the national broadcaster in line with the recommendations of the Future of Media Commission.

He said a decision on further funding for RTÉ will be made after the organisation brings forward its reform plan.

McGrath has said it was “lovely” to have members of his family present in Leinster House for the delivery of his Budget speech.

He added: “I can tell you I’m much more proud of them than I think they are of me.

“But it was great just to see them because the hours have been very long.

“So just to be able to share an occasion like today with those who’ve sacrificed so much for the role that we play in public life was was lovely and very, very rewarding.”

Social welfare

Donohoe told the press conference that a higher increase for pension and social welfare recipients was considered, but said the €12 euro increase was “one we can afford”.

He added: “But the great challenge that the Minister for Finance and I work together on is how we can do things that we are confident we can genuinely afford.”

He said there were also additional once-off payments for “those who really need help”.

McGrath also told reporters that a decision to defer restoration of fuel excise to next year will continue to be monitored.

He said: “We’ve exercised our judgment as to when we think would be an appropriate time.”

Donohoe and McGrath reflect on the increased level of security around Leinster House on Budget Day. 

Here’s what they said:

Political reporter Jane Matthews provides a glimpse of outside Leinster House this evening as things begin to wrap up for the day. 

Well, that’s all from us on the liveblog today. Thanks for reading our coverage throughout the day.

We’ll keep you updated on the site throughout the rest of the evening with any other developments on the Budget.

If you’re just coming to Budget-related news for the first time today or if you want a bit of a refresher, you can catch up with the main points from today’s announcements here.

Slán!

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