Businesses with soaring energy bills will be given up to €10,000 a month while welfare rates will increase by €12 under an overall budgetary package worth €10 billion being unveiled by the Coalition on Tuesday. It is also expected that renters will receive two €500 tax credits, one this year and a second in 2022.
The final details of Budget 2023 were agreed on Monday night and will be announced by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath in the Dáil at lunchtime.
Following weeks of negotiations and amid significant pressure on the Government to stage a big intervention, Ministers have agreed to: increase the entry point for the top level of tax to €40,000; a 25 per cent reduction in childcare fees; a €1,000 cut in third-level student fees; a €1.2 billion package of supports for businesses hit by soaring energy costs; a €12 increase in weekly welfare rates; a double child benefit payment; a €500 lump sum for families availing of the working family payment, a €500 lump sum for carers, a €500 cost of disability payment and a €20 increase in the domiciliary care allowance for sick children meaning the payment will now be €320.
The size of the stand-alone budget looks set to move beyond the mooted figure of €6.7 billion and will likely now top €7 billion, while a cost-of-living package that sits alongside it will cost approximately €3 billion.
This will be made up of once-off measures including the payment of €600 worth of electricity credits to households amid soaring energy prices.
Exporting and manufacturing
Talks on the welfare package continued through Monday evening with eventual agreement that welfare rates would rise by €12 as part of funding secured by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.
The Coalition will also pledge €1.2 billion for struggling businesses as part of two big schemes.
The first is a €200 million scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland for larger firms that are involved in exporting and manufacturing. Under one of its strands, businesses can receive up to €2 million in financial aid.
The second scheme is targeted at small and medium enterprises. The €1 billion Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) will cover 40 per cent of the increase in electricity or gas bills, up to a maximum of €10,000 per month per business. It will be administered by the Revenue Commissioners, will be backdated to September and run at least to February.
In education, all third-level students will see a €1,000 reduction in fees this year as part of budget funding secured by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
Next year, a family earning less than €100,000 will see a permanent reduction of €500 in fees and any family earning under €62,000 will pay no more than €1,500 in fees due to changes in student grant rules. All student grant recipients will also get a double payment and PhD students will get a once-off, cost-of-living payment before Christmas.
Meanwhile parents could see childcare fees fall by an average of €1,200 per year per child under a deal struck by the Coalition that will see a reduction in fees by a projected 25 per cent. The deal will see the subsidies paid to childcare providers under the scheme increase from €0.50 per hour to €1.40 per hour, for a maximum of 45 hours per week.
Parents of younger children will also benefit from free schoolbooks at primary level under a deal struck by Minister for Education Norma Foley.
The Government had earmarked just over €1 billion for a tax package, with Fine Gael pushing for sizeable changes. As part of this, the top tax rate will only apply to income over €40,000. This could be worth €800 to a single person and €1,600 to a two-income couple.
Meanwhile, 430,000 more people will become eligible for free GP care next year under plans being drawn up by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly as part of Budget 2023. For the first time, more than half the population will be covered by either a GP visit card or a medical card, representing the biggest expansion in eligibility for decades. Hospital inpatient fees will be abolished for adults representing a saving of up to €800 a year. Free contraception is to be extended to women aged 30.
In justice, there will be funding to recruit 800 extra gardaí.