Fine Gael T.D. for Sligo – Leitrim, Tony McLoughlin, has said that “Budget 2018 will for the first time in ten years, balance the national books whilst also supporting families, improving people’s lives, safeguarding our national finances and investing in our countries future”.
Speaking after Budget 2018 was announced to the Dáil by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohue T.D., Deputy McLoughlin told Sligo Today
that “this will be the first time we, as a nation, will have balanced the books in over ten years. In many ways it is the end of the ‘Forgotten Decade’
of cuts, forced emigration and austerity caused by the negligence of Fianna Fail which led to the economic crash in 2008.
“Overall, today’s Budget, is a modest expansionary budget which will see €1.2 Billion in spending and tax cuts being implemented. We will spend €60.5 Billion as a country in 2018, but we are sticking to the careful approach we have taken with regards to public spending since 2011. This approach has helped us to reduce the risk of future financial crisis’s being homemade and helped us to regain our feet following the crash. “On the ground in the Sligo – Leitrim Constituency, this Budget will have a wide range of benefits across our local communities.
“For example, social welfare spending is up by €260 Million. This means that there will be a €5 increase across the board for all weekly payments from March 2018, including carers, pensioners, jobseekers and for the disabled. The Christmas bonus has also been increased to 85%." Minimum wage
“With regards to personal taxation and rewarding work, this Budget will ensure that middle income workers are modestly rewarded by ensuring that the point at which an income earner will pay the higher rate of tax will be increased by €750 to €34,550.
"We will also reduce the rates of USC and increased the subsequent bands to ensure that all workers who will receive the increased minimum wage of €9.65 from January will not pay increased USC because of this. This is the forth Budget under Fine Gael that the marginal rate of taxation has been reduced.
"In health, we will see more nurses hired to work on the front line of our hospitals. 1,800 will be hired nationally, with the health budget to be increased by 685 to 15.3 Billion. Prescription charges for over 70s will be reduced from €2.50 to €2 and a new telephone support of €104 per year will also be introduced. There will also be a reduction in in the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme from €144 to 134. “In Housing additional resources are being allocated to fast track the building of local authority housing stock nationally and here in Sligo and Leitrim. This has further been supported by an increase in the funding for the Housing Assistance Payment.
“In education, this Budget will deliver an additional 1,300 teaching posts in schools in 2018, along with an additional 1,000 additional Special Needs Assistants in time for September 2018, bringing the total number of SNAs to over 15,000. This measure will ensure that the Pupil Teacher Ratio at primary level in our schools here in Sligo and Leitrim will be reduced to 26 to 1 for the first time in the history of the State.
“Budget 2018 will also see the recruitment of further 800 Gardaí and 500 civilian staff in 2018 which will mean more Gardaí on our streets and villages. Funding has also been ring-fenced for large Garda infrastructural projects, such as the new Sligo Regional Garda Headquarters, with a site location to be disclosed shortly.
The N4 Collooney – Castlebaldwin road upgrade will continue to be funded with an overall tender expected to be ready to go by the end of 2018.
The earned income tax credit will be increased by €200 to further support our SME’s. A new €300 Million Brexit Loan Scheme to support SME’s to access finance during the difficulties which Brexit is also being supported.
In agriculture, a major industry here in Sligo and Leitrim, there will be a comprehensive €50 Million Brexit response package announced for 2018 along with a specific €25 Million agri-food loan scheme for Brexit. I was lobbied hard by farmers from the region on The Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme and I am glad to learn this it will be increased by €25 Million in 2018.