IRELAND'S budget for 2022 has been revealed and includes funding for 8,000 more healthcare staff, €4 billion to spent on housing and a €5 across the board increase to social welfare payments.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath shared details of the €4.7bn financial package that will dictate spending in the year ahead.
Funding has been also approved for 8,000 new healthcare workers in a huge boost to Ireland's healthcare system ahead of winter.
Meanwhile, a new 'Zoned Land Tax' has been created - prompting negative reactions from within the chamber - which will target land which has been zoned for residential and mixed use but has remained undeveloped.
Parents were said to be the big winners of Budget 2022 with a number of measures announced to alleviate costs for those raising children.
Childcare fees will be frozen as direct payments to childcare providers will be made by the State.
Free GP care to children under eight has been extended while a €5 increase in parental leave and maternity benefit has also been announced. New parents will also get an additional two weeks of parental leave - permitted to take seven weeks’ leave, up from five weeks.
The back-to-school allowance will also increase by €10 with more lone parents eligible to receive it.
Here are all the main talking points:
- A new 'Zoned Land Tax' has been created
- Fuel allowance to increase by €5
- Petrol and diesel prices to increase
- Cigarette and tobacco prices to increase
- €4 billion set aside for housing
- €85 million for retrofitting older homes
- €194 million for homeless services
- Help-to-buy scheme extended
- Christmas bonus to paid in full
- €4 billion set aside in Covid-19 contingency fund
- Tax relief for remote working bills
- Plan for an extra 800 gardaí
- Public transport discount for those aged 19-23
- Free GP care for children aged 6 and 7
- €3 extra for living-alone allowance
- Free contraception to be provided for women aged 17-25
- €1.4 billion set aside to upgrade public transport networks
- €18 million to expand Deis scheme
- Universal childcare subsidy extended to all under-15s
- Commitment to reduce pupil-teacher ratio in classrooms
- Pandemic wage subsidy to be phased out by end of April 2022
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the new budget is aiming to allow life to return to normal after the pandemic.
Speaking to reporters outside the Dáil this morning, he said: "I think the backdrop to this budget is Ireland emerging from the Covid pandemic and the economic recovery under way.
"We have to consolidate that and we have to make sure there's no cliff edge in respect of supports for jobs.
"But also for children and families to do the best we can in terms of resources to support children in childcare and reducing costs in terms of access to health within the health system itself."