Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has unveiled the government’s Budget for 2021. Here are some of the main points and highlights of the budget.

Health

  • An additional €4 billion has been allocated to the Irish health service. This will provide the capacity to carry out 100,000 Covid-19 tests per week.
  • It will also provide an additional 1,146 acute beds, an increase of ICU beds from 255 to 321.
  • €38 million for mental health services.
  • Five million additional home care hours.

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Education

  • The teacher student ration will be reduced to 25:1.
  • 300 new teaching posts.
  • A dedicated €50 million fund to help third-level students during the pandemic.
  • 50,000 further education and training places.

Housing

  • €500 million for the development of 9,500 new social houses.
  • €22 million for homelessness programmes.
  • The Help To Buy scheme will be extended.

Business Supports

  • Businesses closed because of Covid-19 will be able to get rebated for a maximum of €5,000 a week. Businesses must be able to demonstrate that their turnover has been significantly impacted to make a claim.
  • A reduction in the VAT rate for the hospitality sector from 13.5% to 9%.
  • A new version of the Wage Subsidy Scheme to begin after the current scheme ends in spring.
  • €55 million dedicated to tourism business support schemes.

Tax

  • No changes to income tax, USC or PRSI rates.
  • Carbon tax will be increased by €7.50 per tonne, from €26 to €33.50.
  • Tax on a packet of cigarettes will rise by 50c.
  • Some changes to the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) based on emissions – aim is to incentivise people to buy lower emission cars.

Welfare

  • Pension age to remain at 66 years of age.
  • Self-employed people on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be able to earn €480 a month without losing their unemployment payment. This is due to come into effect shortly.
  • Illness benefit is now available after 3 days out of work. It used to be six days out of work.
  • The Living Alone Allowance has increased from €14 to €19 per week.

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