Budget 2016 | Overview of Key Measures
14 - October - 2015
The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, announced Budget 2016 yesterday afternoon.
The Budget saw the introduction of a range of tax cuts and spending increases worth €1.5 billion, with €750 million for additional public service expenditure included. Here are some of the key measures which will impact people and families with disabilities.
- Extension of Free GP Care scheme to all children under 12.
- Continuation of Prescription Charge at €2.50 per item.
- Maintenance of thresholds for the Drugs Payment Scheme, medical cards and GP Visit Cards.
- Commitment of €35 million to mental health and suicide prevention services.
- Allocation of €940 million funding in 2016 for the Fair Deal nursing home scheme.
- Expansion of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) services for children, with €8 million funding support.
Income and Social Welfare Support
- Restoration of Respite Carer’s Grant – which is to be renamed as the Carer’s Support Grant – to €1,700 in 2016.
- Extension of payment of Carers Allowance, following the death of the person being cared for, from six to twelve weeks in January 2016.
- Reintroduction of Christmas Bonus for social welfare receipients at 75% of the weekly payment rate (thus standing at €141 for those receiving a €188 weekly payment).
- Increase of threshold for Family Income Supplement by €5 per week for families with one child and by €10 per week for families with two or more children.
- Introduction of Disabled Drivers Fuel Grant scheme in 2016, benefitting 12,000 people and costing €10 million in the year.
- Rise of minimum wage from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour from January 2016.
- Increase of €5 per week to the Child Benefit Allowance from January 2016.
- Rise in the Fuel Allowance of €2.50 per week.
- Increase of €3 per week to the Old Age Pension from January 2016. This does not apply to those in receipt of the Invalidity Pension or the Blind Pension.
- Addition of €€3 million funding for Free Travel Scheme, bringing total budget to €80 million in 2016.
- Inclusion of €25 a quarter in support for water services for people with disabilities and carers.
- Introduction of two weeks of paid paternity leave from September 2016.
- Addition of €2.50 per week to top-up payments for Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Gateway and Jobbridge programmes.
- Provision of €500 million in 2016 to support enterprise agencies.
- Increase of €200 to the tax credit to carers in the home, bringing it to €1,000. The income threshold for home carers is also set to rise from €5,080 to €7,200.
- Changes of €6 million to the Universal Social Charge (USC), with a new entry point of €13,000 introduced. Three bands are to fall from 1.5% to 1%; 3.5% to 3%; and 7% to 5.5% respectively.
- Introduction of new Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) tax credit of €12 per week for low-paid workers.
- Allocation of €15 million to facilitate the full participation of children with disabilities in the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE).
- Introduction of free pre-school education for children aged between three and five, until they reach primary level, under the ECCE.
- Creation of an additional 20,000 school places.
- Recruitment of 2,260 teachers, including 600 extra resource teachers to support children with disabilities and special education needs, but at the same reduced individual allocations as in recent years.
- Extension of Community Childcare Subvention Programmme by up to 8,000 places to support parents in low-paid employment or training.
- Reduction in pupil:teacher ratios from 28:1 to 27:1 in primary schools and from 19:1 to 18.7:1 in secondary schools in September 2016.
- Enabling of enrollment of children in pre-school at three different times in the year: September, January and April.
- Increase of €69 million to social housing budget, bringing it to €414 million.
- Supply of over 9,500 social housing units by 2018, with over 3,100 to be provided in 2016.
- Provision of 450 units for people with specific needs in 2016, as part of €76 million allocated to Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) to meet housing needs of vulnerable groups.
- Delivery of 20,000 residential units by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) by the end of 2020, at a cost of €4.5 billion; 75% will be houses, and 90% will be in the Greater Dublin area.
- Provision of an addition €17 million for emergency accommodation of homeless people, bringing total budget to support people affected by homelessness into long-term sustainable housing to €70 million.
- Piloting of affordable housing pilot scheme through €10 million made available by sale of Bord Gáis Éireann.