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Budget 2015 - Donegal reaction 15.10.14

THE Government's Budget 2015 has declared an end to austerity and was the first budget in seven years to cut taxes and increase spending.
However, the FG/Labour coalition said it was a budget that would sustain the recovery and was still "prudent and responsible". It delivered some gains for taxpayers, welfare recipients, small businesses and young farmers. But Opposition parties declared that it did little to help struggling families and was an attempt to "buy" the next election.

Some key measures:
Top Income Tax rate reduced from 41% to 40%
1,700 new education posts including 920 teachers
€5 increase in Child Benefit from January
25% Christmas bonus for people on welfare
Tourism VAT rate kept at 9%
Up to €100 tax relief on Water Charges for households
€13.1 billion budget for Department of Health
Twenty cigarettes up by 40c
€2.2 billion for social housing over three years
€9 increase for those living alone

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty described Budget 2015 as “deeply disappointing” adding that it did “nothing for struggling families”.
“Recovery must mean people’s lives are improving, that the financial and emotional burden of the recession is lifted, that tomorrow is better than today.
“What today’s budget shows us is that there is a recovery but only for the few. The vast majority of people are no better off.
“A low paid worker on €30,000 will gain €174 – less than the lowest possible water charge bill of €176."

Independent T.D., Thomas Pringle TD said: “What is particularly notable is that the tax credit for water charges is for a bill up to a maximum of €500 which flies in the face of the Government stating that the average water bill would be around €240 per year. And what is equally disturbing is that low paid workers will not be able to avail of the tax credit or any social welfare support to pay for their water bill, meaning that the low paid worker is suffering the most as usual.
“Ultimately, the better off are gaining from this budget with high earners benefiting up to three times more than a person on the minimum wage."

The Restaurants Association of Ireland praised the Government’s decision to retain the 9% VAT rate on tourism services.
Its chief executive Adrian Cummins said: VAT at 9% into 2015 is crucial, not only to the sustainability of restaurants and businesses in the tourism sector, but also to job creation and regrowth for our economy.
"The success of the lower rate of VAT is evident in the 34,052 new jobs that have been created since its introduction in 2011 and in the savings to the Exchequer of €699.72 million in the past three years."

Clúid Housing warmly welcomed a trebling in capital funding for social housing.
Clúid head of policy Simon Brooke said:
“There are currently 90,000 households on housing waiting lists across the country. Of these, we estimate that 30,000 households are living in seriously substandard housing.
“We need to remember that capital spending on social housing was €1.48 billion in 2007 but by 2014 it had been cut by a massive 85%. Consequently, social house building has collapsed. In 2007, local authorities and housing associations produced 8,700 new homes; by 2013 this had slumped to 757, a staggering drop of over 90%.
“We are absolutely delighted with this (Budget 2015) increase. It will enable housing associations to provide over 2000 new homes over the next three years. Between housing associations and local authorities the Government estimates that over 10,000 new social rented homes will be provided by 2017."

The Carers Association is angry that the Government’s 19 per cent cut to the Respite Care Grant – a lifeline for over 77,000 family carers – was not reversed in Budget 2015. The Carers Association welcomed "the beginning of a reversal of cuts to social welfare payments" but the organisation is "devastated that family carers have been neglected in this reversal".
“With Government declaring an end to austerity measures, family carers are yet again ignored, despite saving the State €4 billion each year," said head of communications, Catherine Cox
"We are extremely disappointed that the 19% cut applied to the Respite Care Grant has not been reinstated and mistakenly believed Government would look after those hit hardest in past "budgets."

Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue TD said: “The failure of the Government to provide funds in (Budget 2015) for the payment of a minor works grant will leave a hole of €9,500 in the average primary school next year. This is money which schools will instead be forced to fundraise from hard-pressed parents and local communities.
"Its omission from the education budget is further proof that the once-off payment of the grant in advance of the recent local elections was nothing more than an election stunt.
“Cuts of 1% to student capitation payments at primary and secondary level will also pile additional financial pressure on schools, while the provision of more teachers at primary and second level will merely accommodate the increased number of students in our schools."
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