Budget 2018 quirks: Increased spending on 100-year-olds

Elsewhere, Department of Health gets big increase for public inquiries and legal fees

Minister for Pucblic Expenditure Paschal Donohoe in his office at the Department of Finance, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

Minister for Pucblic Expenditure Paschal Donohoe in his office at the Department of Finance, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

 

When Paschal Donohoe was appointed Minister for Public Expenditure last year, he likely never expected to find himself mulling over the number of 99-year-old citizens in the State when sitting down to do his budgetary sums.

People born on the island of Ireland receive a special message from Áras an Uachtaráin when they reach their 100th birthday, as well as a reward of €2,540 for their “longevity”, which, of course, comes out of the public finances and has to be budgeted for.

Ireland is getting older, with the last Census revealing the number of people aged 65 and over rose by 102,174 in the five years to 2016 – more than twice the amount that entered the 15-64 bracket.

The “centenarian bounty”, which was awarded to 407 individuals in 2014, received €1.33 million in funding from Donohoe for 2017, which represents enough for about 526 individuals.

It would appear there are expectations for a few more centenarians next year, as Donohoe increased funding to the scheme by 5 per cent, bringing the total amount to over €1.4 million. That’s enough for about 553 people.

Elsewhere, the Garda has secured an increase of 21 per cent in its budget for “office equipment and external IT services”, rising from €36.8 million in 2017 to €44.7 million next year. That’s a lot of paper clips and notebooks.

However, members of the force might have to deal with a few leaky pipes and draughty windows, as its budget for the “maintenance of Garda premises” is to come down by 11 per cent from €721,000 to €642,000.

Meanwhile, you can expect more accurate weather forecasts next year, as the Department of Housing has secured an extra 26 per cent in funding for Met Éireann. That’s €24.5 million for 2018, up from the €19.4 million it has this year.

Then there’s the Department of Health, which must be expecting another stellar year as it increased its budget for “statutory and non-statutory inquiries” as well as “legal fees and settlements” by 150 per cent, up from €4 million to €10 million.

Over at the Department of Foreign Affairs, a programme to “promote our economic interests internationally” has seen its funding increased by 16 per cent to €36.2 million from €31.2 million.

Perhaps that’s not surprising with Brexit coming down the tracks, and a separate programme to “protect and advance our values and interests in Europe” has seen its funding go up 15 per cent from €23.3 million to €26.8 million.

It’s pretty obvious where the department’s priorities lie however, with the funding for its programme to “work for a more just, secure, and sustainable world” increased by just one per cent.

Separately, the Department of justice’s programme to promote “an equal and inclusive society” was increased 18 per cent from €22.2 million to €26.3 million, while its programme for a “fair immigration asylum system” had its funding increased by 3 per cent from €145 million to €150 million.

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