Where deepest cuts and tax hikes will hit hardest
There is also likely to be an increase in carbon tax, although it may not be as high as the €5 per tonne mooted. If that happened, it would yield €108 million.
No supertax on bank pensions
There will be no supertax on the extravagant pensions of former top bankers. Government sources said the strong legal advice was that a specific group could not be singled out in that manner.
A more general targeting of high-income pensioners – both in the private and public sector – may be announced.
The good news is that over the past few days, the department’s very onerous target of €540 million has been reduced by €150 million to €390 million, making the kind of savage cuts that seemed in prospect a month ago seem less remote.
The €10 cut per child in child benefit will not be popular with backbench TDs from either Government party but has been inevitable for many months. That will yield about €140 million to the exchequer.
Statutory sick pay
Another controversial proposal being refloated by the department is for employers to pay the first four weeks of statutory sick pay, for which the State is on the hook at present. However, what will be announced today will apply only to the public sector. The individual department or body will be responsible for paying their own sick pay.
While that will reduce the cost to the Department of Social Protection, it will be revenue neutral as the State will still foot the bill. The Government will not apply the move to the private sector, to the relief of Fine Gael TDs.
Employers rebate for redundancy
Employers will no longer get State support for funding redundancy packages.This will save the State €25 million.
Household package, free travel, TV licence
Secondary allowances for pensioners will be tightened. Telephone allowances will be halved. There will be some adjustments to gas and electricity allowances. However, free travel, fuel allowance and television licences will all be unaffected.
School clothing allowances
Expected to be cut from €150 to €100 for primary school pupils and from €250 to €200 for secondary school pupils.
Because of overruns, the total cut for health will be €930 million. However, the target has been reduced by €150 million to about €780 million as the Government has found savings elsewhere.
Health staff and rising charges Savings include trimming back of agency staff, cuts in over-time, new terms for consultants, increases in charges for providing public hospital facilities – including beds and AE services – to private patients, and further reductions in drug pricing. A hike in the 50c prescription charge is also on the cards.
The income thresholds for medical cards for pensioners will be reduced substantially from €36,000 to €30,000 for a single person and from €72,000 to €60,000 for a couple. Those who fall outside the limit will be entitled to a GP-only medical card.
Cuts will be €80 million. A big part of this will come from increasing the pupil-teacher ration from 21-1 to perhaps 23-1. There will also be rises in student fees as well cuts in allowances for Gaeltacht and Irish-speaking duties.
There may also be some additional cuts to the €90 million budget for private schools.