Budget 2023 has delivered a cost of living package that will give individuals and families in Waterford more disposable income and help them meet rising household and energy costs, said Fine Gael Senator John Cummins.
He said Fine Gael has acted decisively by announcing a package of once-off measures worth a €4.4bn, which people will benefit from in the coming weeks, if not immediately.
A total of €6.9bn in budgetary measures for 2023 was also announced, amounting to a total package of €11 billion this year.
“Fine Gael’s priority was to ensure that Budget 2023 helps people with the cost of living in areas like childcare, public transport, the cost of putting a child through school, or saving up for your first home.
“We want to support householders and businesses in Waterford through the energy crisis and bring down their gas and electricity costs.
“This budget aims to alleviate the pressure facing people by reducing their energy bills with an energy credit worth €600, with the first payment made in November, with follow on payments in January and March next year.
“For our older people, there will be a special €400 fuel allowance payment before Christmas, and changes to the income threshold mean up to 70,000 additional people will be eligible. I would encourage any pensioners who aren’t in receipt of the fuel allowance to touch base with my offices in the city and Dungarvan for more information.
“We will further help with fuel costs by extending excise cuts for petrol (21c) and diesel (16c), until February and with home energy costs by extending 9% VAT rate for gas & electricity, to February.
“Public and community services in Waterford will be supported in terms of meeting energy costs. Approximately €100 million will be made available in 2022 to schools, €10 million to further and higher education, €60 million to Local Authorities and €110 million to a range of Health funded bodies and nursing homes.
“Fine Gael is ensuring that workers in Waterford do not find themselves in a position where they pay more income tax solely due to inflation – therefore the standard rate cut off point will rise by €3,200 to €40,000, with proportionate increases for married couples and civil partners.
“Personal, employee and earned income credit will increase by €75 to €1,775, which is worth €831 on the average wage when combined with a USC band increase.
“A key priority was ensuring people are supported, while at the same time protecting Ireland from unexpected future shocks at a time of global volatility, with €2 billion put aside this year and €4 billion next year.”
Senator Cummins added, “It was essential that Budget 2023 helped hard-pressed individuals and families at a time when they are really feeling the strain of rising costs.
“The decision to give parents and guardians a double payment of the monthly Child Benefit in November is extremely welcome. There will be a reduction of up to 25% in the weekly fee for those availing of the National Childcare Scheme, which will put up to €175 a month or €2,106 a year, back in the pockets of parents next year.
“In terms of social protection payments, these include a €12 increase in weekly welfare payments, a double payment in October and the Christmas bonus which will be paid in early December. There will also be a €12 increase in the pension, and a double payment this October.
“For families there will be a double child benefit payment, and a new €500 lump sum on the working family payment which gives additional financial support to lower income working families with children.
This will be paid in November.
“In November, there will be a €500 payment for those who qualify for the carer support grant, in addition to a €500 disability support grant, while the home carer tax credit will also increase by €100. A one off €200 Living Alone Allowance payment will also be made to recipients in November.
“Measures to benefit young people include a once-off reduction in the Student Contribution of €1,000 for eligible students in the 2022-2023 education year, and a once-off double monthly payment for those in receipt of the SUSI maintenance grant.
“The income limit to qualify for a 50 per cent reduction in contribution fees under SUSI will be increased from €55,240 to €62,000 and all SUSI maintenance grants will be increased by between 10 and 14 percent in September 2023.
“There will also be a once-off €1,000 increase to the post graduate fee contribution grant. The 20% public transport fare reduction and the Youth Travel Card discount of 50% on all operators’ services will be extended to the of 2023.
Senator Cummins concluded by saying “You can rely on the Fine Gael team to ensure that as well as helping people, we will ensure that our economy stays strong so that we have the resources to continue helping you with the cost of living, with continued investment in vital public services and infrastructure such as housing.”