Burke welcomes 'most extensive budget in decades'

Minister of State Peter Burke has welcomed Budget 2023, saying that it is the most far-reaching and extensive budget for decades, and that it will have a significant impact on families and individuals who badly need support.

“I know from meeting people locally and at my weekly clinics, people are really suffering at the minute and financial supports are needed. The Tánaiste and the entire Government recognise this, and that is why this budget goes so far.

“Families have always faced significant financial challenges, trying to feed, clothe and educate children so they can have the best start in life.

"So it is positive to see the introduction of free primary school books from next September, 25% reduction in childcare, double child benefit payments, a €1,000 reduction in college registration fees, doubling the next SUSI grant payment as well as increased funding for teachers, SNAs and school transport, which is provided free of charge but has faced acute pressures since this announcement.

"It is also welcome that from next year, rates of third level registration fees will be reduced for households on under €62,000 and €100,000 respectively.

“Changes to income tax will also be welcome, with the level at which an individual meets the second rate of tax increased to €40,000. This will be worth €800 for those who are on the higher rate.

"Changes to lower rates are also welcome news, and for those who benefitted from the recent minimum wage hike of 80c per hour, this will not be lost to tax. The squeezed middle, many of whom have significant mortgages or rent are a key target of this budget; those who are not eligible for State supports but also do not earn incomes high enough to be able to offset the increase in the cost of living.

“In my own Department, we are providing a €500 tax credit to renters this year and next year, extending the Help to Buy Scheme for another two years and introducing a vacant home tax for all habitable residential buildings. We have a total budget of €215 million to fight homelessness and €1.1 billion to provide affordable housing alone.

“Carers, those on the working family payment and those with disabilities were already on tight margins in many instances, so a once-off payment to both groups will be very welcome.

"€20 on the domiciliary care allowance rate, for those caring for a disabled child bringing that weekly rate to €320, and €12 on all other rates will help those who are struggling with bills and costs at present. All social welfare recipients will receive two double payments, one next month and another before Christmas.

“Businesses supports are also a key element of the budget, with two separate schemes aimed at SMEs who are struggling with massively inflated energy bills. The government will step in many cases to cover 40% of the increase, based on last year’s unit price. There will also be low-cost loans available, in a similar fashion to Covid 19 schemes.

"The reduction in VAT rate for newspapers to 0% is also welcome. Domestic energy customers will be supported too, with a total of €600 energy credit made available for all energy customers split between three €200 instalments over the coming months.

“The budget goes a lot further than many expected, and government believes this is warranted. There are measures in this budget to assist all sectors of society, and the measures that have the most impact are targeted at the most vulnerable and those who need it the most.

"My Fine Gael colleagues continue to create and implement new policies, in a similar fashion to covid, to ensure people can weather this storm and access financial support”.