Minister Burke welcomes Budget 2022 – 'Recover, restore, repair'

(Above) Minister of State Peter Burke.

Minister for Planning and Local Government Peter Burke has welcomed Budget 2022, and highlights measures in his own department as well as Social Welfare and Finance as key outcomes for the people of Longford Westmeath.

Speaking from Leinster House, the chartered accountant said that the budget reflects the actions which must now be taken by government.

“We have three key roles to carry out in government through budget 2022 – recover from the pandemic, restore public services and repair public finances.

“In my own department, a €4bn combined capital and current exchequer spend in housing – 20% increase on 2021 reflects that housing is government priority number one. This is a 40% increase on the budget we had in 2008, during the height of the Celtic Tiger. We will meet the social housing needs of over 31,000 additional households during 2022 and 11,820 new homes will be added to the available supply of social housing with a focus on new build (9,000 homes).

“I have received many queries on the Help to Buy Scheme, which has assisted over 28,000 young couples and individuals with up to €30,000 tax back on new build homes. I am delighted to confirm this will be extended into next year.

“Under my direct responsibility, I have secured increases in the budgets for housing for older persons, people with a disability and Traveller Accommodation. As Minister for Local Government, I have also increased the funding going to our local authorities up to €224.8m which represents an increase of €32.8m on core funding.

“I am also announcing today the extension of a targeted rates waiver so that businesses involved in hospitality, entertainment and live events will have no rates due again for the final quarter of 2021, while providing all income lost from rates to our local authorities."

The Mullingar Minister of State also said that increases from his colleague Minister Heather Humphreys would be welcomed by the public, as well as reform of some schemes which will see the net widened so that more families are eligible for supports.

“We must ease the burden of the increase in the cost of living on all those most vulnerable, so I welcome modest increases in all social welfare payments across the board, including the old age pension (€20 per month), the back to school allowance and the fuel allowance. Since my election, I have been fighting to increase supports to carers, who in my opinion are not prioritised or valued enough by the government. So I am happy to see that thousands of more people will now be eligible for the Carers Allowance as changes have been made to the means testing for the first time in 14 years.

“While there is additional €1 billion allocation in the entire budget, some other key announcements are a tax deduction for home workers, reduction in income tax which means that everyone who pays income tax will benefit, and those on the minimum wage will be continued to be kept out of higher USC threshold while receiving an increase in hourly wage."

Half Price Public Transport for all aged 19-24

Minister Burke has also welcomed the new measure aimed at assisting young people will see public transport costs halved for all aged 19-24.

“This is fantastic news for young people and a timely support by Government to assist all students and workers who avail of public transport. In the past, there was a 30% discounts for students, but this is a more equitable support now available to all young people, regardless of whether they are in full time education or working.

“I know many students travel daily to AIT, Maynooth, Dublin and further afield, and more make the journey twice weekly. We also see many now travel to work and to appointments.

“We have seen that there has been an increase in the cost of living, and younger people often need to make their money go further so this discount will mean the cost of public transport will not be prohibitive to all who are eligible and will go some way in helping young people keep money in their pockets.

“I will be lobbying for this discount to be continued past next year and extended to more people in their 20s, past the age of 24," he said.