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Budget 2018

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So here we go with Budget 2018. What does it hold for you?

Housing

A total of €1.83 billion has been allocated to housing in Budget 2018, with 3,800 social houses to be built by local authorities and approved housing bodies.

The Housing Assistance Payment Scheme will increase by €149m, enabling an additional 17,000 households to be supported and accommodated next year.

Funding for homeless services will increase by €18m to more than €116m.

The Government has said 4,000 social housing homes will be delivered next year through the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme.

An extra €500m for the direct building programme will see 3,000 additional new build social houses by 2021.

€750m is to be made available for commercial investment in housing finance.

The level of stamp duty on commercial property transactions will rise from 2% to 6% from midnight.

The vacant site levy will increase from 3% in the first year to 7% in second and subsequent years.

new house-building entity to boost construction has been announced.

Recruitment

An additional 1,300 teaching posts have been announced for next year to reduce the primary pupil teacher ratio to 26:1.

€1.7 billion will be invested in special education, with more than 1,000 new Special Needs Assistants being recruited before September 2018.

An additional 800 gardaí will be recruited during 2018. Another 500 civiliansto be hired also.

The health allocation includes an additional 1,800 staff in frontline services across acute, mental health, disability, primary and community care sectors.

Health

A reduction in prescription charges for all medical card holders under 70 from €2.50 to €2 per item.

The monthly cap drops from €25 to €20, with the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme dropping from €144 to €134.

An increase of €685m in allocation to the Department of Health brings total funding to almost €15.3bn next year.

Social welfare payments and allowances

From the last week of March, there will be a €5 per week increase in all weekly social welfare payments, including disability allowance, carer's allowance, Jobseekers' Allowance and the State pension.

Christmas bonus payment of 85% will be paid to all social welfare recipients in 2017.

There will be a €20 increase in the earnings threshold for the One Parent Family Payment and Jobseekers' Transitional scheme.

The threshold for the Family Income Supplement will rise by €10 per week for families with three children. €2 per week rise in the rate of the qualified child payment.

There will be a €2.50 increase in the Telephone Support Allowance for those receiving the Living Alone and Fuel allowances.

The home carer credit will rise by €100 to €1,200.

Tax and USC

The point at which an income earner attracts the higher rate of income tax will rise next year by €750 per annum.

The entry point for single earners will increase from €33,800 to €34,550.

Targeted changes to Universal Social Charge will reduce rates but do not narrow the USC tax base.

The entry point to USC will remain at €13,000.

The 2.5% USC rate will be reduced to 2% with the ceiling for the new rate increased from €18,772 to €19,372.

The 5% USC rate will be reduced to 4.75%.

A working group will be set up over the coming year to plan the amalgamation of the USC and PRSI over the medium term.

Employers PRSI is to increase (this is hidden in the small print)

The Earned Income Credit for the self-employed will rise by €200 to €1,150 a year.

Reduction in seven-year period for owners to enjoy full relief from Capital Gains Tax to four years.

Mortgage Interest Relief

Mortgage interest relief will be cut next year in a move that will affect about 300,000 homeowners.

The relief for people with loans from 2004-2012 is being continued to 2020, but at just 75% of the rate in 2018, 50% in 2019 and 25% in 2020.

Sugar tax

From April 2018, there will be a 30 cent per litre of tax on drinks with over 8g of sugar per 100ml.

There will be a reduced rate of 20 cent per litre on drinks with between 5g and 8g of sugar per 100ml.

Old reliables

The excise duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes will rise by 50 cents. 

VAT on sunbeds

The VAT rate on sunbed services is to increase from 13.5% to 23%.

Electric vehicles

There will be €17 million for the Renewal Heat Incentive and to incentivise an increase in electric vehicles.

There will also be a 0% Benefit-in-Kind rate for electric vehicles alongside the VRT relief and SEAI grant.

Brexit

A Brexit Loan Scheme has been announced to assist SMEs. Full details to be announced over the coming days.

VAT

The VAT rate on the tourism and services sector will remain.


 

Rainy Day Fund

A Rainy Day Fund will be established in the coming year, with at least €1.5 billion transferred to it from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. 

So Was It A Giveaway Or A Reserved Budget?

In my opinion what we saw today was an election planned budget for the second year in a row. I found Minister Donahoe’s comments as to who he was thinking about as he compiled this quite interesting. The first thing he thought about was the family he recently met going into a hotel, with the children in their school uniforms, who are homeless. (This explains the first 3rd of his speech dealing with the issue of homelessness without offering any real solutions. The difficulties with the HAP scheme is it largely doesn’t suit either landlords or tenants. Therefore, it is not fit for purpose.) The second he thought about was children in primary school and building a future for them (hence reduced class sizes which is to be widely welcomed) The third angle he was particularly concerned by was the unseen children following these into primary school to ensure a future for them in Ireland.

Social Welfare recipients to enjoy an increase of 2-2.5% (€5 per week) plus an increase in fuel allowance, whereas someone earning €20,000 to €25,000 can expect to be €50 a year better off. On earnings of €50,000-55,000 you could be €300 a year better off.

Unfortunately the Micro Business Owner is again forgotten. Yes there is an extra €200 in tax credits, but despite previous promises we still fail to have parity with someone in PAYE in terms of credits or entitlements. I have applied for a meeting with the Minister to discuss this and see how we can close this gap.

Hope this is of benefit to you as a brief synopsis of what 2018 holds.