Fine Gael tackling Cost of Living by cutting taxes & helping those most in need
North Cork based Councillor John Paul O’Shea has said Fine Gael is committed to putting more money in people’s pockets in Budget 2024 by cutting tax and USC.
Cllr O’Shea said Budget 2024 is the tenth Budget in a row which has rewarded work and will help people in County Cork keep more of their hard-earned wages.
“The country is faced with many challenges, but thanks to a pro-jobs policy and strong economy, under the guidance of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, we are building stronger safer communities, ensuring the best start for every child and delivering for rural Ireland and farmers.
“Cost of living challenges continue and inflation is still with us. In response to this in the €1.3bn tax package just announced, Fine Gael has increased the entry point to the top 40% tax rate by €9,200 in the last decade – from €32,800 in 2014 to €42,000 next year. More than 200,000 workers have been removed from the top 40% tax rate since Covid, in the last three budgets. USC has been cut from 4.5pc to 4pc. The minimum wage will be increased by €1.40 an hour to €12.70.
“We know people and families are finding it hard to pay for the bills due to the rise in the cost of living so these measures will help. The average full-time worker will benefit by more than €1,000 when other measures taken by Government are taken into account,” Cllr. O’Shea said.
“These include; three energy grants worth a combined total of €450, excise increases on petrol and diesel have been deferred. The rent tax credit has been increased from €500 to €750 which includes parents whose student children are in ‘rent a room’ or ‘digs’ accommodation. Mortgage Interest Relief for home owners for their primary dwelling will also assist.
“The Social Welfare package of €2.3bn is the largest in the history of the State to assist households with the cost of living. It has numerous initiatives including a €300 fuel allowance lump sum; double child payment benefit; a Christmas bonus to 1.3m recipients, a €12 increase in the State pension from January and extending parent’s benefit from 7 weeks to 9 next year.
“To support those most in need, a special, once-off payment of €400 will be made before Christmas to those who receive the Carer’s Support Grant, Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension and Domiciliary Care Allowance.
“We are building stronger, safer communities in Cork and will provide up to 1,000 new Garda trainees, an increase in Garda overtime from €105m to €131m and a 66pc increase in the garda training allowance from €184 to €305,” Cllr. O’Shea said.
“Fine Gael wants to take on and eliminate child poverty. There will be a €12 increase in weekly social welfare payments. We are extending hot school meals programme to all non-DEIS primary schools. Free school books will be provided to all up to Junior Cycle exams.
“Next year, there will be a further reduction in childcare fees by 25pc meaning parents will pay 50pc less for childcare than they did in 2022. In addition, child benefit will also be extended to 18 year olds in full time education. There will also be an extra 1,200 SNAs recruited,” Cllr. O’Shea said.
Fine Gael want to help people in their 20s and 30s own their own home and the highly successful Help-to-Buy scheme will be extended until the end of 2025. A total of €1.9 billion is allocated to provide more than 9,000 new build social homes in 2024.
“Businesses in Cork will be supported with a €250m package of temporary supports to help them through cost of living pressures. Alongside this, a new Angel Investers Scheme will encourage high potential start ups to make here their base.
“Our success story in education must continue. Families with an income of less than €100,000 will have college fees for undergraduate students halved to €1,500 this year. All other families in Cork will see college fees for undergraduate students cut by €1,000. Student grant holders will have their grants increased up to €340 between January and May and maintenance grants to Postgraduates to be restored for the first time since the financial crash.
“All undergraduate college fees will be abolished for those earning less than €56,000. For the first time ever, this will include part-time students. We will also see families with an income of less than €100,000 benefit from a reduction in college fees to €1,500, with all other families having fees cut by €1,000.
“Unlike previous Governments, Fine Gael is safeguarding our future. The Future Ireland Fund, which could reach more than €100 billion in the next decade, will help protect living standards and public services as generations live longer.
“As we saw with the Celtic Tiger, when an economic downturn hits, the first thing axed is the country’s infrastructure plans (roads, schools, garda stations). Fine Gael’s pro job policies has ensured a strong economy and €14 billion will be put aside in the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund by 2030 for continued investment in infrastructure and climate projects to safeguard future generations.
“This Budget put together by my colleagues in Fine Gael ensures we are best equipped to help all in an ever changing country and world where events far away can have a major impact on how we live our lives,” Cllr. O’Shea said.