Budget 2024 to help workers, parents and mortgage holders

Rising tensions with Department of Health following series of meetings on Sunday

With Ireland's housing crisis continuing can any actions in the forthcoming Budget make a significant impact?

People who lose their jobs could receive higher welfare payments linked to their salary while mortgage holders could be in line for supports worth more than €1,000 as part of Budget 2024. There will also be increased grants for student and a large package of supports for businesses struggling with inflation.

Intense negotiations took place on Sunday between Ministers and Coalition party leaders before the announcement of Budget 2024 this week, with a welfare package of more than €1.1bn now expected which would include social welfare increases of at least €10-€12 and a double child benefit payment.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said all workers will see a reduction on their income tax and USC in tomorrow’s budget, which will also feature increased payments for trainee gardaí.

There are significant tensions remaining over the health budget, however, with no agreement yet on potential budgetary measures for the next year. A senior source said last night that “significant gaps” remain over the health and social protection budgets.


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On mortgages, a limited and targeted mortgage interest relief scheme is on the table – but only for those at risk of losing their home. Under one option, mortgage holders would have to apply to the Revenue Commissioners to get a special credit, in the same way as those applying for the rent credit tax relief have had to do.

It is understood such a scheme could be supported by the welfare system, and could be worth more than €1,000 for homeowners in serious difficulty, sources said.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is understood to have secured a double child benefit payment as well as a new package aimed at helping those who lose their jobs. Under that plan, workers could receive 60 per cent of their previous salary up to a maximum of €450 per week, although sources cautioned that talks are still continuing.

The budget package will also include significant increases in student grants, beginning from January.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is understood to have secured a significant increase in student grants which will probably benefit more than 50,000 students and will see payments increase by more than €300 this academic year.

He is also understood to have secured significant grant increases for postgraduate students. This could mean that the highest student grant will increase from €6,971 to €7,313, while postgraduate students could also receive a maximum of €2,300.

The allowance for trainee Gardaí will also increase in Budget 2024 under plans being finalised by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. Garda recruits spend 33 weeks in training and they are paid €184 weekly before moving on to the first point of the incremental pay scale when they graduate. This is probably to now increase by two thirds – up to €305. The change will apply from Budget day on.

There will also be a large package of supports for businesses struggling with inflation which could involve business owners being given cash payments by December, sources said last night.

Asked about the income tax package on Sunday, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar indicated it would involve changes to tax bands as well as USC cuts. On taxation changes, the Government will spend at least €1.2 billion. Last year the standard rate tax band rose by €3,200 a year to €40,000. A further increase of €1,000-€2,000 this year has been suggested.

The Taoiseach said budget talks were taking place throughout the night and would involve “burning the midnight oil”.

“What I can say on the tax side is there will be a good income tax and USC package – all income earners, workers, pensioners will see a reduction on income tax and USC and also there will be a package to help small businesses”.

Asked if the cost of living package would be larger or smaller than last year, he said “I think the cost of living package will be smaller than it was last year, but it will still be substantial”.

Meanwhile senior figures involved in the health side of budget talks are understood to be “deeply frustrated” at reports over the weekend that Minsters are being told, during their budget talks, that budgetary pressures for all of Government are the fault of the HSE for spending more than it is funded for.

A source said that the Department of Public Expenditure “refused to accept” a detailed analysis from the Department of Health as to what funding was required for 2023 to cover inflation and increased patient demand.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times