Fine Gael tackling Cost of Living by cutting taxes & helping those most in need
Fine Gael is committed to putting more money in people’s pockets in Budget 2024 by cutting tax and introducing a series of universal supports for all and targeted supports for the most vulnerable, according to Waterford Senator John Cummins
Senator Cummins said “Thanks to the prudent financial management of our economy over the past decade, we have been able to introduce a budget which many countries across Europe and the world could only dream of. I am proud that Budget 2024 is the tenth Budget in a row which has rewarded work and will help people in Waterford to keep more of their hard-earned wages.
“The entry point to the top 40% tax rate has been increased by €9,200 in the last decade – from €32,800 in 2014 to €42,000 next year. More than 200,000 workers have been removed from the top 40% tax rate in the last three budgets alone. USC has been cut from 4.5pc to 4pc and changes to tax credits mean all tax payer’s benefit. In addition, the minimum wage will be increased by €1.40 an hour to €12.70, making work pay.
He continued “We are acutely conscious that cost of living challenges remain and inflation is still unfortunately a reality we still must contend with. That is why we have announced a series of cost of living measures. These include; three energy grants worth a combined total of €450; a deferral of excise increases on petrol and diesel. The rent tax credit has been increased from €500 to €750 which includes parents whose student children are in ‘rent a room’ or ‘digs’ accommodation. Targeted Mortgage Interest Relief for home owners who have seen their mortgage payments increase between 2022 and 2023 on their primary dwelling will assist 165,000 mortgage holders.
Senator Cummins said “The Social Welfare package of €2.3bn is the largest in the history of the State and will assist households with the cost of living. It has numerous initiatives including a €300 fuel allowance lump sum; double child payment benefit before Christmas for every child and a €12 increase in the State pension from January. Parent’s benefit will also increase from 7 weeks to 9 next year.
“To support those most in need, a special, once-off payment of €400 will be made before Christmas to those who receive the Carer’s Support Grant, Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Working Family Payment. There will also be a €200 lump sum for those in receipt of the living alone allowance.
“As a former physical education teacher, I am delighted to see the extension of the hot school meals programme to a further 900 primary schools, something I had advocated for. The extension of free school books to all students up to Junior Cycle exams will reduce the cost of returning to school for all families.
“In terms of further and higher education, families with an income of less than €100,000 will have college fees for undergraduate students halved to €1,500 this year. All other families in Waterford will see college fees for undergraduate students cut by €1,000. All undergraduate college fees will be abolished for those earning less than €56,000 from September. Student grant holders will have their grants increased up to €340 between January and May and maintenance grants to Postgraduates to be restored for the first time since the financial crash. For the first time ever, part-time students will also be eligible student grants.
Senator Cummins continued “I am particularly happy to see funding provided for the recruitment of 1,000 new Gardai, the increase in Garda overtime from €105m to €131m and the 66pc increase in the garda training allowance. All of these measures will assist in building stronger, safer communities.
“From September, there will be a further reduction in childcare fees by 25pc meaning parents will pay 50pc less for childcare than they did in 2022. In addition, child benefit will also be extended to 18 year olds in full time education.
The party spokesman on housing said “we want to increase the opportunity for young persons to own their own home. That is why the highly successful Help-to-Buy scheme has been extended until the end of 2025. The First Home Scheme and Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme have been expanded and the very popular vacant property refurbishment grant scheme maintained. In addition capital funding of over €5 billion will deliver over 9800 new build social homes in 2024.
“Small businesses in Waterford will be supported with a €250m package of temporary supports to help them offset increasing costs. Alongside this, a new Angel Investors Scheme will encourage high potential startups to make Waterford their base, something which was raised at the SME conference in SETU arena recently.
Senator Cummins concluded by saying “This Budget put together by my colleagues in Fine Gael and our government partners will ensure we are best equipped to help all sections of society in an ever changing world where events far away can have a major impact on how we live our lives at home”.