An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has today (Friday) unveiled Fine Gael’s General Election manifesto which outlines how the Party will ensure a Future to Look Forward to.
The manifesto highlights what Fine Gael stands for:
– Fairer Taxes for people.
– A better deal for families and older people.
– The best team for Brexit.
– The only Party that can be trusted on the economy and ensure every part of Ireland prospers.
Some of the key commitments in the manifesto include:
· A fairer tax package, increasing the point at which a single person pays the higher rate of tax to €50,000 and to €100,000 for a couple.
· Raising the USC income exemption threshold from €13,000 to €20,500.
· Our plan to create 200,000 jobs right across the economy and in key public services – nurses, teachers, doctors and Gardaí.
· A better deal for families to cut their bills and offer more security on the costs of childcare. Free GP care to under 18s, free primary school books and more paid parental leave.
· The expansion of Help to Buy to help more people buy their first home.
· Reform of our health service.
· A Golden Years Guarantee which increases the State pension by €25 a week over the next five years.
· Real Climate Action with a focus on more and better public transport.
· Balanced regional development and sustained investment in rural Ireland.
· Promoting equality, empowering women in the workplace and in education.
· The recruitment of up to 700 Gardaí every year over the next five years and the implementation of Garda reforms.
Speaking at the launch of the manifesto, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said:
““Our economy has never been stronger. There are more people at work than ever before, incomes are rising, poverty is falling and the public finances are back in order. We have a deal on Brexit that ensures no hard border, citizens’ rights will be protected and the Common Travel Area will remain in place. The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive have reconvened.
“However, it’s not enough. Brexit is not done yet. It’s only half-time. The next step is to negotiate a free trade agreement between the EU, including Ireland, and the United Kingdom that protects our jobs, our businesses, our rural and coastal communities, and our economy.
“Progress on health and housing is gathering momentum. I meet people every day and I know the worry, frustration and concerns around the pace of progress in health and housing. Today we are laying out our plans to build on what has been done, with a particular focus on home ownership and universal healthcare.
“An improving economy and the careful management of our public finances, along with the sensitive stewardship of the upcoming Brexit trade negotiations, will enable us to drive that momentum and provide more houses, more hospital beds, more nurses and Gardaí, deliver climate action, and drive tax reform.
“We’ve been able to make good progress, but I know it’s not enough. I want us to do much more. I want people to start feeling the growing strength of our economy in their pockets – I want people to see it in their payslips and in their towns and parishes. In this manifesto we set out our plan for fairer taxes – for future jobs and for rural Ireland – to put that right.
“On Saturday 8th of February we are seeking a fresh mandate so we can continue to build a better future. A future we can all look forward to. We have the team. We have the track record. We have the plans.”
· We believe it’s unfair that someone on the average full-time wage in Ireland (€47,596) is paying the top rate of tax, so we will increase the point at which an individual pays the top rate of tax from €35,300 to €50,000.
· We will raise the USC exemption threshold from €13,000 to €20,500 so that people on low incomes like full time minimum wage workers, low paid part-time workers and people in receipt of modest occupational pension are no longer in the USC.
· There was a €1.5 billion surplus in 2019. Recognising key risks to the economy such as lower corporation tax, the Fine Gael plan will generate a surplus of €3.8 billion by 2021.
A better deal for families and older people
· Building on free GP care for under 6s, we will extend free GP care to all children under 18.
· We will phase out the charge to parents for the School Transport Scheme.
· We will provide free hot meals in schools to a further 35,000 children every year.
· We will extend parental leave by a further seven weeks. This means that, in 2025, parents will each have an entitlement to nine weeks of paid parental leave in the first year of their child’s life.
· We will reduce the costs of childcare through the National Childcare Scheme, increasing the universal and income assessed payments with a particular focus on the early years.
· We will increase the ECCE scheme from 38 weeks to 42 weeks.
· We will increase the State Pension by at least €25 over five years and all social welfare payments (except jobseeker’s allowance). We are proposing a solution to resolve the issue of people retiring before the State Pension age.
Reform our health service
· Our plan delivers an increase to current health funding of €5 billion over the next five years.
· We will deliver care closer to home, recruiting 3,840 primary care workers.
· We will recruit 5,000 nurses over the next five years.
· We will deliver free GP care for under 18s among other measures to reduce the cost of care.
· We will publish a Women’s Health Action Plan.
· We will establish one-stop clinics for women to access cervical screening, sexual health checks, contraceptives and menopause care.
· Fine Gael will deliver free contraception over a phased period, starting with women aged 17-25.
· We will introduce “returnships” to help women back to work and we will also expand supports for female entrepreneurs.
· The newly-established Judicial Council will have an important role to play in ensuring specialist training for judges working in the area of family law.
· Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan: We will expand this for a further five years with sufficient finance to help more first-time buyers.
· A fair deal for renters: Fine Gael introduced a 4% annual cap on rent increases within designated Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs). We will now introduce tenancies of indefinite duration to give renters greater long-term security.
· Social Housing: Fine Gael is delivering the largest social housing programme in decades and will ensure that 60,000 social houses are provided over the next five years.
· Tackling homelessness: Fine Gael is committed to Housing First, a proven model internationally which makes an impact on homelessness. Under the plan so far, 341 homeless people have a home and that 400 Housing First new tenancies will be created by the end of 2021.
Helping people buy their first home
· Fine Gael will expand the Help to Buy scheme so that the maximum tax rebate that can be claimed from HTB will be €30,000 or 10% of the cost of purchasing or building a new house. Whichever id lessor
Real Climate Action
· 70% Clean Power: Fine Gael will increase renewable electricity to 70% by 2030.
· Public Transport: €8.6 billion will be invested in major public transport projects as part of the NDP eg. Metrolink, BusConnects Dublin, Cork and Galway.
· Investment to increase cycling: We will ring-fence 10% of all carbon tax revenue to deliver for cycling and active travel – that’s a €600m investment. We will publish a five year plan to at least double the number of people cycling on a daily basis to work.
· Ring-fenced funding for climate action: We will increase the carbon tax by €6 each year, raising €6bn over the next 10 years. Every cent will be ring-fenced and invested into climate action, supporting a just transition and tackling energy poverty.