Budget 2017

Social welfare hikes, childcare plan, USC cuts, first-time buyer scheme and sugary drinks tax

Dan Griffin and Sorcha Pollak Tue, Oct 11
 
LIVE: Budget 2017

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  • 07:30
    Welcome to budget day with The Irish Times. Our budget team and our in-house experts will keeping you up to speed on the news, the details, the reaction and the best of social media comment.

    We will explain, clarify and analyse how it is likely to affect your pocket.
    The action begins at 1pm when Minister for Finance Michael Noonan takes to his feet, followed by Minister for Public Spending Paschal Donohoe.

    Until then we will recap what we know so far and examine the outstanding issues that were the focus of late night political talks.
  • 07:33
    Our political staff Fiach Kelly, Sarah Bardon report today that all parents with children aged between six months and three years in childcare will be entitled to up to €900 in State subsidies a year, in budget measures to be announced today.

    The poorest families will receive €8,000 annually under the budget’s childcare arrangement. Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s plan will see all parents, no matter what their income, receive some subsidy from the State. The full story is here.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/n...
  • 07:43
    If you have a sense that all budgets are the same, this lovely interactive feature examines the last dozen or so in detail. http://www.irishtimes.com/b...
  • 08:12
    Cliff Taylor analyses how Budget 2017 will expose the failures of 'new politics' and questions why there has been little discussion regarding a €55 billion chunk of the State's finances- http://www.irishtimes.com/b...
  • 08:16
    Curious about how this year's budget will affect you? Check out The Irish Times' own budget calculator, which goes live immediately after the Budget 2017 speeches this afternoon- http://www.irishtimes.com/b...
  • 08:21
    What we can expect later: €5 extra in the pension from next March; packet of 20 cigarettes to cost 50 cent more; prescription charges will be capped at €20 per month for over-70s; Dirt cut by 2 per cent.

    It is also anticipated that the Government will outline a range of additional tax reliefs and allowance restorations, which you can keep track of throughout the day on IrishTimes.com.
  • 08:24
    “Opposition spokesmen and spokeswomen will seek to disrupt the Government narrative, while their backroom researchers pore over the budget seeking to find landmines, an unforeseen effect, a hidden cut, etc, that might upset the Government’s carefully laid plans and turn public opinion against the budget.”

    Our Deputy Political Editor Pat Leahy gives a fascinating insight into the procedures and politics of budget day- http://www.irishtimes.com/n...
  • 08:36
    What a difference a year makes-
  • 08:46
    Ahead of the budget, we take a look at Dun Laoghaire and what its inhabitants hope and expect from today's announcements- http://www.irishtimes.com/b...
  • 08:53
    Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit say they want to see a landlord tax introduced- http://www.irishtimes.com/n...
  • 09:10

    Cliff Taylor writes: It will be all about Brexit... or a lot of it will be anyway. This will mean a package aimed at entrepreneurs and businesses, including the promised 10 per cent capital gains tax rate for entrepreneurs and reliefs for share based remuneration.

    The fall in sterling removed any chance of a rise in the minimum wage greater than the 10 cent per hour to €9.25 recommended by the low pay commission - due to the pressure of currency factors on SMEs.

    This 10 cent rise will happen and there will be a tweak in the entry level to the main USC rate  likely to fall to 5 per cent - to make sure no one on the minimum wage pays at the standard rate.

  • 09:13

    Cora O'Brien, policy director at the Irish Tax Institute is predicting that there will be small changes in Budget 2017 "spread across a lot of different groups".

    "Everybody will be a little better off," she told RTE's Morning Ireland.

  • 09:15

    Minister of State at the OPW Sean Canney TD maintains that the Independent Alliance group had a lot of influence on the Budget.  "We're partners in government, we put in a huge amount of effort."

  • 09:18

    Fianna Fail's spokesperson on Public Expenditure Dara Calleary TD denies that his party is looking for credit for the 'goodies' in Budget 2017.  "I would prefer to be around the table writing the budget. But this is not our budget," he said on Newstalk Breakfast.

  • 09:19
    Political reporter Sarah Bardon writes: "€5 increase in carers allowance, disability payments, One Parent Family payment and Back to Education allowance. New payments will be issued from March 1st."
  • 09:22
    Fianna Fáil's Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath maintains that today's budget represents a new direction that is "quite radical."  He said it remains to be seen how they will vote on the budget.
  • 09:29
  • 09:43
    It’s been almost nine years since Brian Cowen delivered his fourth budget as Minister for Finance, and his first against a “challenging economic backdrop” in December 2007. How have the swingeing budgets that followed affected Irish families?
  • 09:44
  • 09:57

    As they said on Morning Ireland, it's difficult to believe a junior minister (Phil Hogan) once resigned after a handler inadvertently faxed budget details to a newspaper before the main speech.


    This year, as in recent years, the press has been treated to a fire hosing of budget details. There is little that remains unknown. Or is there? Here's Cliff Tayor with Budget 2017: Five things we still don't know.

  • 10:03
  • 10:15
    Once the budget is over with, attention is likely to shift to the Fine Gael leadership. Enda Kenny has said he will not lead the party into the next general election but, as Sarah Bardon reports, he intends to be part of the next Dáil. The Taoiseach told constituency colleagues that he would not be going anywhere soon.
  • 10:20

    With less than three hours to go now until Budget 2017 is announced, most of the public interest seems to centre around possible childcare payments. The most read story on the Irish Times website today is how all parents with children aged between six months and three years in childcare will be entitled to up to €900 in State subsidies a year.

    The poorest families will receive €8,000 annually under the budget’s childcare arrangement. Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s plan will see all parents, no matter what their income, receive some subsidy from the State.

  • 10:25
    If you'd like to comment you can tweet @dangriffinIT and I will embed them here.
  • 10:31
    Pensioners were insulated from the worst of the crash. Should this group now receive an extra €5 in their pensions? Discuss.
  • 10:41
    Conn O Midheach gives a full run down here of everything we know so far. With most of the intrigue and, I suppose, suspense, taken out of budget day, now would be a good time for Finance ministers to start introducing a Steve Jobs style "One more thing..." announcement at the end of their budget speeches.
  • 10:42
  • 10:49

    Independent TD Kevin "Boxer" Moran says he is happy that there is something for everyone in the budget. The Longford Westmeath public representative told his local radio station Midlands 103, that he was involved in discussions with the Finance Minister, and that a five euro increase to the state pension is a big win for the elderly and is expected to take effect in March.

  • 10:50
  • 11:03
    When Michael Noonan rolls out Budget 2017, farmers will hope he acknowledges the likely impact of Brexit on prices for food exports, writes Lorna Siggins.
  • 11:04
    About two hours to go now, if you'd like to comment please tweet @dangriffinIT and I'll embed it here.
  • 11:15

    Cliff Taylor writes: The fall in sterling – and the hit this has had on competitiveness – is one of the factors behind a few key Budget decisions. It scuppered any idea that the minimum wage would rise more than the 10 cent an hour recommended by the low pay commission, for fear of the impact on SME competitiveness. And it means that the 9 per cent VAT rate is a nailed on certainty to stay, with the tourist sector facing a possible hit on UK visitor numbers. The final key area to watch is diesel. There has been talk of a move over a few years to equalise the 11 cent a litre excise gap between petrol and diesel. But hauliers have been lobbying and while there may be a rise in diesel excise it may not be too steep.

  • 11:18
    Do you remember when John Bruton argued that women with small feet could get away with paying no VAT? What about us living beyond our means and the decentralisation debacle? Harry McGee remembers it all and explains why this Budget will be different from the ones that have come before.
  • 11:18
  • 11:24

    Parliamentary Correspondent Michael O'Regan writes:

    "A senior Government source told me in Leinster House just now that a hugely important part of the Budget is to ensure no banana skins.'We have gone through it in detail to ensure there are none,' the source said. 'We hope we have it right... the folk memory of the tax on children’s shoes which brought down a Fine Gael-led government still haunts the party'."

  • 11:30

    The help-to-buy scheme, which is expected to offer buyers of new builds a tax refund of approximately 5 per cent of the property (up to €400,000), is "simply a rethread of former schemes that failed to work" according to Lorcan Sirr, a lecturer in housing studies at Dublin Institute of Technology.

    "All these things do is get added to the price of house that's for sale. Builders are out there to make a profit and it's understandable that if they see people coming in with more money, then they're going to charge more money for the houses."

  • 11:34

    Health Correspondent Paul Cullen writes:

    "After months of delay, the Department of Health has finally released under freedom of information the file on the mental health spending controversy that surrounded last year’s budget. Things got hot and heavy behind the scenes, with a stand-off between Leo Varadkar and Kathleen Lynch and officials accusing the politicians of 'sexing up' their figures. Nothing quite so exciting expected this afternoon…"

  • 11:37

    Deputy Political Editor Pat Leahy writes:

    "There’s general acceptance around Leinster House that the Budget will be passed by the Dail. But what does that actually mean? We’ll have to wait for the detail, but it’s likely that the only votes in the Dail this evening will be to increase the tax on cigarettes. That’s scheduled to take place after 10pm.

    "The tax and social welfare changes included in today’s speech won’t be voted on until the Finance Bill and the Social Welfare Bill are brought to the House in the coming weeks.

    "The minority Government commands a wafer thin majority in the Dail when Fianna Fáil abstains and everyone else votes against it. But I’m told that Fianna Fáil is likely to support increasing the price of cigarettes, so even if a few Government TDs got stranded in a lift, or in Copper Face Jacks, the coalition would still win the vote. Unless, of course, something goes wrong in the next few hours . . ."

  • 11:43
  • 11:49

    Michael O'Regan writes:

    "The Independent Alliance has informed journalists its 'post-Budget media opportunity'’ will be on the steps of Government Buildings at 4.15 pm.   Location and timing suggests that the junior Government party wants to get in early to claim credit for goodies being dispensed."

  • 11:57
    Sarah Bardon with an update:  The Department of Transport has secured €70 million in Budget negotiations.
  • 12:08
    Less than one hour to go now until Budget 2017.  The Yanomami people of the Amazonian rain forest consume the rotted flesh of their dead in a banana soup and we, in Ireland, have the budget. Read more of Fintan O'Toole's take here.
  • 12:16
    Sarah Bardon reports that  Jobseekers allowance is to increase by €5 from May next year.  The Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has received Cabinet approval to increase the weekly rates.
  • 12:19
  • 12:19

    Michael O'Regan writes:


    The anticipated 50 cent increase in the price of 20 cigarettes expected to be the first budget vote later today.   Fianna Fail is expected to vote with the Government for various reasons, not least because party leader Micheal Martin introduced the smoking ban as minister for health some years ago. Party likely to abstain down the road on the Finance Bill, implementing the budget measures. New smoke-free politics!

  • 12:28

    Sarah Bardon writes:  

    The Invalidity pension will be extended to the self-employed from December.  The back to education allowance for those under 26 will be increased from €160 to €188 from September 2017.

  • 12:29
  • 12:42

    More updates from Sarah Bardon:

    Minister Simon Coveney's housing package will allow first time buyers receive a 5 per cent tax rebate on the cost for the house up to €400,000.
    For those purchasing a home between €400,000 and €600,000 the benefit will be capped at €20,000.

  • 12:56

    Well the first question, what colour ties will the Ministers wear, has been answered thanks to Miriam Lord, who phoned in the following dispatch:

    Noonan and Donohoe have just finished the traditional pre-budget photocall on the steps of Government Buildings. Sartorially they are very coordinated, both wearing what look like identical, dark grey suits, white shirts and SIMILARLY DESIGNED TIES (both patterned with tiny squares).


    Noonan's tie was a racier shade of lavender while his younger colleague opted for a more sobre navy. Both men appeared very relaxed, smiling, and said little beyond a cheery "Hello". They probably had nothing to say because everything has already been said.

  • 12:57
  • 13:00

    "Dáil chamber filling up," writes Michael O'Regan. "Ministers looking very relaxed."

  • 13:04
    Parliamentary Correspondent tells us that Fianna Fáil appear to be showing great enthusiasm for the budget. There were 20 members of the party in the Dáil 15 minutes before the speech was due to take place.
  • 13:05
    Michael Noonan is on his feet, making his sixth budget speech since 2011, each Minister will have about 45 minutes to make their speeches.
  • 13:06

    Minister for Finance forecasts that GDP will grow by 4.2% in 2016 and 3.5% in 2017  

  • 13:09

    Noonan: The projected deficit for 2016 is 0.9% of GDP and taking account of budget package, forecast for 2017 of budget deficit is 0.4 %

  • 13:11
  • 13:11

    Cliff Taylor writes:

    Minister Noonan says the package will be €1.3 billion in total. Not clear yet how the numbers add up exactly. There will be €500 million of tax reductions, partly offset by €195 million of new tax raising. We probably know most of the cuts but it will be interesting to see where the  new money comes from. Close to €200 million is quite a lot.

  • 13:12
  • 13:13
    Noonan: It’s the Government’s intention to establish a contingency fund and set aside up to 1 billion annually  
  • 13:14
    Noonan: I'm extending the start of our own business scheme for a further two years.  
  • 13:15
    An emerging controversy. Miriam Lord has been back in touch. She writes: "Fierce argument over Noonan's tie colour. Consensus indoors (out of bright sun) is purple/grape."
  • 13:16
    Cliff Taylor writes: As expected the Minister has made a new commitment on longer term financial targets. EU rules commit us to cut the debt to GDP ratio to 60 per cent. The Minister says he wants the ratio to fall to 45 per cent by the mid 2020s.
  • 13:16
    Noonan: I’m allowing farmers facing an exceptionally poor year to step out of income averaging and pay the tax due on a current year basis.  
  • 13:18
    No surprises so far, writes Harry McGee. As Michael Noonan works his way through his Budget script there are no surprises. Everything he has announced so far has already been out in the public domain, including the "step out" tax concession for farmers and also a new income tax credit for fishermen.
  • 13:21
    Housing situaiton:  I’m introducing a rebate of income task paid over previous four tax years up to a maximum of 5% on the purchase price of up to 400,000 for first time buyers.  
  • 13:21
    Very tasty piece of video here from the Government news service.
  • 13:22

    Rent a room scheme – increasing by further €2,000 to bring it to €14,000 per annum. Income tax will not apply to this amount and will allow homeowners to rent out additional rooms.  

  • 13:23
    I’m allocating €335 million to improve the take home pay of low and middle income earners.  
  • 13:23

    Harry McGee writes:

    Noonan is now moving through a key area of his Budget, the help-to-buy scheme for first-time buyers. It will give a rebate of income tax of 5 per cent of purchase of a new house up to a value of €400,000. That is worth €20,000 for a household which buys a house at the maximum value.

    The big problem is the short supply of new houses at the moment.

    Fianna Fáil has criticised this measure as focusing on the demand side rather then the supply side.

    Noonan and the Government are hoping this stimulus will increase the incentive for the construction industry to build affordable housing.

  • 13:25

    I’m increasing the home carers credit by €100 to bring it €1,100. This will further assist one income families who care for children or elderly persons at home.  

  • 13:26
  • 13:26

    Noonan: I’m developing a new SME focused share based incentive scheme to be introduced in budget 2018.  

  • 13:27
  • 13:27
    Noonan: Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax rate will not be changed and nobody in Europe or anywhere else is asking for it to be changed.  
  • 13:29

    Noonan: Our international tax strategy restates our commitment to meet international tax principles and how our corporate tax regime remains fair but competitive into the future.

  • 13:30
    The Irish tourist industry has been quick to welcome Budget 2017. A statement: "The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) has today welcomed Budget 2017 as announced by Ministers Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe. In particular the retention of the Vat rate for tourism services at 9 per cent allows Ireland to remain competitive in this key period of post-Brexit uncertainty."
  • 13:33
    But Savills are less keen: “The centrepiece of this year’s Budget is a Help-to-Buy(HTB) scheme which will give first time buyers an upfront tax rebate equal to five percent of the value of the property when they purchase a new home...  Unfortunately this also makes housing less affordable.   Alternative approaches, such as cutting VAT on new homes, would equally have encouraged development - but at a lower price point."
  • 13:33

    Noonan: Climate change is the global challenge of our generation. There is work ongoing across government departments to create Ireland’s first national mitigation plan to transition Ireland to a low carbon economy by 2015.

    I’m extending the relief for vehicle registration tax on electric vehicles for 5 years.

    I’m extending VRT relief for hybrid vehicles for two years.            

  • 13:34

    Ciaran Hancock writes:

    Three rates of Universal Social Charge to be reduced. The 1 per cent to reduce to 0.5 per cent, the 3 per cent level to reduce to 2.5 per cent, and the 5.5 per cent level to reduce to 5 per cent. The ceiling on the 2.5 per cent rate to be lifted slightly to ensure those on minimum wage are kept out of top rate. Minister said intention to eliminate USC over time as resources allow.

  • 13:35
    Joe Brennan writes:  Noonan plans to publish measures in Finance Bill tackling tax avoidance in corporate structures used to buy property
  • 13:35

    Tobacco consumption – I’m increasing excise duty on cigarettes by an extra 50c with a pro rata increase on other tobacco products. This will bring to price to €11 per package of 20. This is the only tax increase in today’s budget.  

  • 13:36
    Budget 2017 contains more-than-expected measures on climate change, writes Harry McGee:  

    Successive governments' record on climate change has been patchy.

    Noonan has now announced incentives for electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, a new move to encourage larger vehicles to use natural gas, reliefs for biomass, and a generous concession to heat and power plants.  

    None of the measures are massive but they are heading in the right direction.
  • 13:36

    Noonan: I’m introducing a tax on sugar sweets and drinks. It would be prudent to align the tax increase with the UK’s tax proposal in terms of time frame and structure. Therefore, I intend to introduce this tax in April 2018.


    I’m announcing a public consultation process which will run till January 3rd next year and inviting interested stakeholders to make submissions.  

  • 13:37

    On landlord measures, Fiona Reddan writes: No surprise for landlords who got the expected 5 per cent increase in the amount of mortgage interest they can deduct from 75 per cent to 80 per cent in 2017.

    It’s still some way off the 100 per cent level at which it was previously set, but it’s the first relief for landlords in quite some time. However,  it won’t have too much of an impact on landlords’ tax bills - Accountancy network TaxAssist says that the actual average savings to many landlords is likely to be a meagre €77 a year.

  • 13:39
    Harry McGee writes: The Independent Minister of State Finian McGrath gets a bit of good-natured barracking as Noonan announces a 50 cent increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes. McGrath, needles to say, is a smoker. It will cost €11 for 20 cigarettes now.
  • 13:41

    Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe: Recovery in current spending has been achieved alongside remarkable growth in investment of 26% since 2014.

    Due to sacrifices of the Irish people we are back on the pathway to a dynamic economy and to a just and fair society.  

  • 13:44

    As Paschal Donohoe now outlines the expenditure side of Budget 2017, Pat Leahy writes:

    The expenditure increases are bigger than previously advertised.

    Three weeks ago Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe told the Fine Gael think-in that they would introduce a €1 billion budget. Today, that has risen to a €1.3 billion budget, though because the increases in capital spending are smoothed out over a few years, in fiscal terms it is €1.2 billion. The total expenditure package is €905 million, of which €100 million is new capital spending. Tax reductions of €490 million, with €195 million of tax increases, leaving a net tax package of €295 million.

  • 13:44
    Harry McGee writes:  The things to look out for in Paschal Donohoe's debut speech are the timing of increases of €5 in pension and other benefits; the childcare package, and other social welfare increases including the Christmas bonus.
  • 13:46
    Donohoe: I’m announcing €58 billion in gross expenditure for 2017 – €53.5 billion in current day to day spending - equivalent to almost €11,500 for every man, woman and child in this country. €4.5 billion euro in capital spending.  In total, this is an increase of €1.9 billion or 3.3%. This is at a time with the economy forecast to grow by over 4.5% in nominal terms.  
  • 13:46

    Pat Leahy writes:

    The tax increases are comprised of: €65 million in tobacco tax, from midnight tonight. €50 million in a clampdown on foreign funds and section 110 companies. "Tackling offshore tax evasion" (€30 million), and increased compliance (€50 million), facilitated by 50 extra staff for Revenue. Big numbers. Also very round.

  • 13:49
    Ciaran Hancock notes the "strong words" from leading estate agent Savills, reported briefly here earlier. They accused the Government of bottling out of cutting VAT on new homes because "it would simply have looked too much like a handout for developers".
  • 13:50

    Pat Leahy writes:

    No provision in the estimates for any increases in public sector pay beyond the promises in the Lansdowne Road agreement, which will cost €290 million. However, between this and the increase in numbers, the total bill for public sector pay will increase by €660 million.

  • 13:51

    Fiona Reddan writes:

    As expected, the tax free threshold for inheritances from a parent to a child has increased, up by 11 per cent to €310,000. However, thresholds for other groups have also increased; the threshold for sisters, brothers, grandparents etc has increased from €30,150 to €32,500; and for people who are unrelated, the threshold is up from €15,075 to €16,250.

  • 13:53

    Housing: I’m committing €1.2 billion in funding for housing to the department for housing in 2017. To allow for continued implementation of housing action plan, 47,000 new social homes will be delivered by 2021. Capital allocation includes €50 million for 200 million local housing activation fund.

    I’m announcing an additional €105 million for housing assistance payments scheme. This brings budget for this to €153 million, increase of 220% compared to 2016. This will enable additional 15,000 households to avail of this payment and will mean that over 21,000 applicants for social housing will have their housing needs met next year.

  • 13:55

    Donohoe: Education spending of €9.5 billion is 16% of total spending. Increase in spending of €458 million will fund extensive programme of recruitment in 2017 including additional 2,500 teaching posts of which 900 will be resource teachers.  

  • 13:55
    The hoteliers have said they are happy with the retention of the 9 per cent tourism VAT rate. The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has said the Government’s decision not to change excise duty on alcohol in Budget 2017 is a reflection of the current economic reality.
  • 13:57
    Pat Leahy writes that the Government has allocated an additional €36.5 million for higher education... but the sector wanted €100 million.
  • 13:58

    Affordable childcare: early years funding will rise from €345 million in 2016 to €465 million in 2017, an increase of 35%. This increase will allow for additional €35 million to support provision of universal and target services for care, development and well being of young people.  

  • 13:58
    An extra half billion euro for Department of Health means the highest ever spending on health in the history of the State, says Donohoe. With that comes responsibility, he adds.
  • 13:58
    Donohoe: State pension will rise by €5 per week from March.  
  • 13:58

    Harry McGee writes: Pension increases will kick in in March. Earlier than some had forecast. The €5 will be extended to other groups such as carers, unemployed, disability.  

  • 14:00
    Donohoe: All weekly social welfare payments will rise by €5 per week in line with the increase in the state pension.

    There will be a payment of 85% Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients.  

  • 14:01
    Labour Senator Ged Nash has said the increase in the minimum wage of 10 cent is a slap in the face for low paid workers.  “The government has failed to meet its own commitments to raise the minimum wage to €10.50,” said Nash. “At this rate of increase it will take almost 13 years to reach the target this administration set itself in the Programme for Government just last May."
  • 14:02

    Sarah Bardon writes:

    What for Fianna Fail? Little victory for Micheal Martin's party it seems. A  €5 increase in the pension and the extension of the mortgage interest relief (which was outlined in the confidence and supply arrangement).

  • 14:03
    Donohoe: Increase in spending on our defence forces with additional €16 million
  • 14:04
    Donohoe:  Increase spending in Budget 2017 to Department of Agriculture by €119 million
  • 14:05
    The Irish Beverage Council has reacted angrily to the April 2018 sugar tax announcement.  “We are extremely disappointed that the Minister for Finance continues to labour under the delusion that additional taxes on soft drinks will have any positive impact on obesity."  
  • 14:06
    Donohoe: €25 million for new animal welfare scheme for sheep to support sheep sector.  
  • 14:07

    Ciaran Hancock writes:

    The artists exemption is to be retained. It was reviewed by the Department of Finance in advance of the budget, which has proposed that “further work” be undertaken on the suitability of introducing income averaging for artists in 2016.

    This is currently only available to farmers. The system works by averaging a number of years' income on a rolling basis. The objective is to help to counteract the high volatility in income that is associated with the farming sector.

    By 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 2,640 artists availing of the exemption at an Exchequer cost of €5.8 million. A cap of €50,000 applies to the amount of an artist’s income that is exempt from tax per annum.

  • 14:08

    Donohoe: also increased funding to Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to help fund the action plan on rural development.  

  • 14:09

    Paul Cullen, Health Correspondent, writes:

    Pascal Donohoe has promised an additional €497 million for the health budget next year. That’s more than was predicted, even if it includes capital expenditure. Taken together with the additional €500 million provided to Health during the year, it means overall spending is up almost €1 billion since the last budget.

    The bad news is that most of the money will go to meeting rising demand and the needs of an ageing population. The only specific measure mentioned by Donohoe was a slight easing in the threshold for prescription charges for older people. The maximum an over-70 will have to pay in a month will fall from €25 to €20.

    Earlier, Michael Noonan promised the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, but the Minister for Finance couldn’t manage to get the bitter taste out of his mouth when announcing the measure.

    Mr Noonan also showed little enthusiasm when announcing the extension of the VAT reduction for the restaurant sector. You can read what I think of this here.

  • 14:10

    Climate change: there will be an increased allocation to new dept of Communication, Climate Action and Environment. In terms of capital funding, this will see increase of almost €50 million or 41% and include carbon reductions and renewable targets through renewable heat scheme, better energy grant scheme and electrical vehicles subsidy.  

  • 14:10

    Sarah Bardon writes:  


    Meanwhile Budget 2017 books show salaries, wages and allowances at the Department of the Taoiseach expected to increase by eight per cent in 2017. Travel and subsistence at the same Department will increase by 15 per cent. While monies for water services will increase by 11 per cent according to estimates for the Department of Housing.

  • 14:11

    Donohoe: Announcing €44 million package for flood relief schemes.  

  • 14:16
    Early years funding will rise from €345m in 2016 to €465m in 2016, an increase of 35%  
  • 14:16
    So that's it. All over for another year. Now here comes Fianna Fail with the response and TDs are already leaving the chamber.
  • 14:17

    Harry McGee writes:

    Like Noonan, Donohoe has announced some concrete measure on climate change. A total of €90 million is being allowed to renewable heat scheme; better energy grant; and electric vehicles subsidy.  

    In addition he has increased the funding to the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS) by €69 million to €211 million.

    This is a response to the criticism of Government inaction on agricultural emissions.  

    Will it be enough?

    Doubtful.
  • 14:20
    Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath says his party didn't get everything it wanted in Budget 2017 but "we have secured some vital progress on a number of priorities". He goes on to remind the house that Fianna Fáil had a lot of influence on the drafting of the budget. He then gets stuck into the other opposition parties for not contributing.
  • 14:22
  • 14:25

     Fianna Fáil’s Micheal McGrath says budgeting has to become a whole of year exercise.  

  • 14:25
    The Irish Heart Foundation says the delay in introducing a tax on sugary drinks is... "bitterly disappointing”.
  • 14:27

    McGrath says Government has been “ill-prepared” for the Brexit vote.  

  • 14:28
    Share your views on Budget 2017: tweet @dangriffinIT
  • 14:28

    "There is no solution to the housing crisis in this Budget," says Rory Hearne on RTE's News at One.

  • 14:32
    The changes announced to capital gains tax in Budget 2017 will do little to stem the flow of startup companies moving to the UK from Ireland, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce has said.
  • 14:34
    The Irish Pharmacy Union has welcomed the decision to reduce the monthly prescription levy cap by €5 for those over 70 but has expressed disappointment at "the failure of Government to deliver in any meaningful way on the commitment it made in the Programme for Government of May last".
  • 14:35

    Fianna Fáil’s Micheal McGrath warned that Brexit means “serious implications” for border region and general relations with Northern Ireland and that “a hard border would be a deeply regressive step”. He welcomed some of the measures in response to the UK’s Brexit vote but said the Government would “need to do more” to support export markets and small businesses.  

  • 14:38
    The Irish Cancer Society has said Budget 2017 will bring little relief to many of the thousands of cancer patients struggling to pay for the costs associated with their disease. Expressing its disappointment, the charity said that Budget 2017 was a missed opportunity to relieve some of the indiscriminate statutory charges that cancer patients are being hammered with.
  • 14:39
    SIPTU's Maria Sherlock described the 10c increase in the minimum wage as "derisory" and said it is only a third of what is needed.
  • 14:46

    Fianna Fáil’s Micheal McGrath  has warned of great concern in the Government’s lack of preparedness for flooding and a concern that underlying causes of flooding have not been dealt with.  

  • 14:49
  • 14:49

  • 14:54
    Michael O'Regan writes:  Interestingly, Dara Calleary talking about the “next two budgets’’ under the confidence and supply agreement. Can the Government survive for three years?
  • 14:55
  • 14:59

    Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary has told the Dáil that his party is glad to see the “last minute smash and grab approach to mental health” has been avoided in this year’s budget.  

  • 15:01
  • 15:01

    Fianna Fáil has welcomed the increased support for lone parents which go some way to reversing changes in the last government which were “misguided”.  

  • 15:03
    Looking for a concise run through of the main points of Budget 2017? Here it is.
  • 15:08

    Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary has said the Office of Public Works has “a poor record” of delivering to communities affected by flooding in his response to this year's budget. Mr Calleary told the Dáil that he remained to be convinced the OPW has “the capacity or the wish” to deliver a proper flood management programme around this country.  

  • 15:14
    What's in this budget for the motorist? NOTHING, thunders the AA.  "The coalition Government's first budget has done nothing for motorists and contained no measures to address the crisis in motor insurance prices... There was no attempt to ease the burden of fuel taxes, no change to motoring taxes and no positive measures on road safety."
  • 15:21
    The Peter McVerry Trust meanwhile has welcomed the additional €28 million allocated by Government to provide additional emergency homeless accommodation.
  • 15:22
    Michael O'Regan writes: Yes, the great Opposition budget cliché has finally been used. Pearse Doherty says the budget "a missed opportunity". Like old times.
  • 15:25
    Well nearly all of the press releases sent in by interest groups so far have said Budget 2017 has been a "missed opportunity". Here's Retail Ireland: "Welcome initiatives, but also a missed opportunity."
  • 15:26
    Rory Hearne of Think Tank Task says this Budget is continued austerity. "The basic rate of social welfare is €22 a week below the at risk of poverty line, a €5 a week increase means it is still €17 below the at risk of poverty line."
  • 15:26

    Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty has argued that today's budget was the chance to create a budget that would start to "reduce the cost of living".  

    "Budget 2017 should have been when the development of the all-Ireland economy and investment in long economic growth began," said Mr Doherty. "It should have been about making the tax system fairer."

  • 15:33

    Marie O'Halloran writes:

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue are the only Fine Gael TDs remaining in the chamber as Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty gives his reaction to the budget.

    About 10 Fianna Fáil TDs are still in place, a number of Independents and Labour leader Brendan Howlin and finance spokeswoman Joan Burton.

  • 15:35

    Brian Keegan, Director of Taxation with Chartered Accountants Ireland described Budget 2017 as a regional budget.

    "We're looking at special purpose incentives like the Living Cities Initiative, the capital gains tax relief for turbary rights, over reclaiming bogland.

    "They're all good in their own right but it's very hard to see an over-arching industrial policy or commercial policy or even an employment policy which is informing the measures in this Budget, he told RTE's News at One Budget Special.

  • 15:36

    Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty has told the Dáil that the help to buy scheme in this year's budget is more of a "help the bank scheme" or "help the builder scheme" and was taken "directly from the Fianna Fáil guide on how to wreck the economy".  

    This scheme will "lump further debt onto young families" and is just another of those "old, failed ideas dressed up as new ones."

    "This scheme is ill-thought out," said Mr Doherty. "I urge you to drop this reckless proposal."

  • 15:37
    The Small Firms Association says Budget 2017 "does nothing to Brexit-proof small business".
  • 15:40
  • 15:55
    The Heritage Council says  it welcomes the increased budget funding which will boost key community development programmes.
  • 16:04

    Marie O'Halloran writes:

    There is no mention at all of water in the budget – no reference to either charges or investment – an issue to be kicked down the road until at least after the expert commission on water charges reports.

    Asked about it a senior Fianna Fáil TD said “we have made our position clear. As far as we’re concerned they’re gone”.

  • 16:19
    The motto for this budget is 'keep the show on the road', according to Labour's Joan Burton who added that it was "a fairly tawdry show" and disappointing for people who had expectations for the 2017 budget.  
  • 16:24
    Unlikely the Help-to-Buy scheme would apply to returning emigrants:  The relief will take the form of a rebate of income tax (including DIRT) paid over the previous four tax years.
  • 16:26

    Labour's Joan Burton has warned that the Minister for Finance is proposing to "squeeze and squeeze this economy for the next 10 years, till the mid 2020s and beyond, to bring down debt to 45% of GDP."


    The problem with this statement is that German fiscal rules require us to reach a ratio of 60% while the Government is proposing that we drive down debt to 45%, said Ms Burton, warning that this "poor proposal" had not been discussed properly.  

  • 16:27
    Many have welcomed the increase of 50 cent in the price of a packet of cigarettes. Not the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers:  “Big excise increases just achieve one goal. They amplify the price differential between legal and illegal cigarettes, making it more and more attractive for smokers to look for smuggled products and for criminals to run this business. The Government is again undermining the legitimate tobacco industry and retail, while not achieving any policy objective”.
  • 16:30

    Joan Burton called for clarity on the Government's budget decision to introduce a new Single Affordable Childcare scheme from Sept 2017 which will provide means-tested subsidies based on parental income for children between 6 months and 15 years and universal subsidies for all children aged 6 months to 3 years.  


    Who is going to implement these changes, asked Ms Burton, adding that if an existing body was to carry out the changes, they would need to implement "fairly heavy means testing to get ot the net income".

  • 16:31
    The farmers are fairly pleased as well, according to an IFA press release which came in a short while ago.
  • 16:40

    Dr Sheila Kinahan, Assistant Dean at the Kemmy Business School, at the University of Limerick says it would have been more logical for the government to invest more in third level education in a bid to get unemployed people under the age of 25 back to work. She told RTE's Drivetime that the 'small investment' in education was little more than was given to sheep in the Budget.

  • 16:41
    The Simon Communities in Ireland have said that they welcome the budget increases to tackle homelessness, whilst warning that urgent implementation and delivery of promises on housing and homelessness is key.
  • 16:43

    Joan Burton has called for the Government to have a conversation about the future of taxation in this country and on the international stage.

    "We need to have a conversation and structures in place, which while encouraging foreign direct investment and maintaining our 12.5% tax rate, provide that a minimum effective rate is paid," she said.  

  • 16:46
    Ms Burton has said the first time buyers tax refund is a "direct subsidy to builders" and underlined how during boom times, such subsidies resulted in extra money ending up in builders' pockets.  
  • 16:51
    Labour TD Sean Sherlock has described the 2017 budget as a "do nothing budget" that has "no material benefit for any citizen in a real or meaningful way".  
  • 16:52
    The colleges are not happy. "Third level snubbed again in Budget," says the Irish Federation of University Teachers.
  • 16:53
  • 16:56
  • 16:58
  • 16:58
    Mr Sherlock has complained that while only €50 million has been allocated to childcare, €25 million has been put aside for sheep in the 2017 budget.  
  • 17:02

    Unsure what the budget means to you?

    Why not submit a question here and join in-house experts Dominic Coyle and Fiona Reddan along with PWC tax consultants Beryl Power and Alanna O’Donerty live from 7:30am Wednesday October 12th.

  • 17:02

    Ian Talbot, chief executive with Chambers Ireland, says it would be impossible to call Budget 2017 Brexit-proof. "It's a great aspiration, but it's impossible to Brexit-proof anything at the moment," he told Newstalk.

  • 17:05

    What would Labour have done for the Irish health system in this year's budget?

    "We would have reduced our prescription charges, we would have looked at the recruitment of early intervention teams for all children with disabilities," said Mr Sherlock. " We would have brought in an extra 780 staff across the disciplines, employed more occupational therapists, we would have funded homecare packages, we would have built out an extra 1.3 million extra home help hours at a cost of €20 million."

  • 17:16
    What kind of first time buyer can afford to buy a home for €600,000? asks Sean Sherlock, adding that the new scheme could have "an inflationary effect" on the cost of housing and cause a rush of young couples looking to purchase a home.  
  • 17:23

    Budget 2017 is a missed opportunity to address the issues raised by the recent Apple ruling on tax, Oxfam Ireland has said.

    “Most Irish people understand that negotiating special tax deals like the one that allowed Apple to avoid paying €13 billion has greatly damaged Ireland’s international standing and has contributed to Ireland being named as a corporate tax haven,” said Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, Jim Clarken.

    “This budget was a real opportunity for Ireland to put its house in order. While we welcome the announcement that the Government is planning interventions against individuals engaged in offshore tax evasion, it is hugely disappointing that no new mechanisms were announced to stop tax dodging by multinational corporations that negatively affects poorer countries and to increase tax transparency."

  • 17:25

    Want to read back on all that was said at the announcement of today's 2017 Budget?

    Take a read of Michael Noonan and Pascal Donohoe's speeches to find out what the changes will mean for you.  

  • 17:41

    We think it’s time to recap some of the main points from Budget 2017...

    -  Social welfare payments and the State pension are to increase by €5 per week

    - The three lowest rates of the Universal Social Charge (USC) are to fall by 0.5%

    - There will be a €5 increase in the State pension from March 1st.

    - All social welfare payments will also rise in March including jobseeker’s allowance, carer’s allowance and disability benefit.

    - The increase to people under 25 in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance will be €2.70 rather than €5

    - Social welfare recipients will be entitled to a Christmas bonus equal to 85 per cent of their weekly payment (up from 75 per cent in 2015).

    - Some €35 million is being provided for a Single Affordable Childcare Scheme which will commence in September.  

    -  Medical card coverage will be extended to all children in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance.

    - Education spending is to increase by €458 million to some €9.5 billion which the Minister said would fund an extensive programme of recruitment next year including 2,400 teaching posts, of which 900 will be resource teachers.

    - Some €1.2 billion has been committed to support the Housing Action Plan next year. It aims to deliver 47,000 social housing units by 2021.

    - The only taxation increase is an extra 50 cent being added to the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes

    - The excise on alcohol and fuel is being left unchanged

    - A tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will be introduced in April 2018 to coincide with similar measures in the UK.

    - The Home Carers’ Credit is to increase by €100 to bring it up to €1,100.

    - A help to buy scheme for first time buyers will involve a 5% PAYE rebate of up to €20,000 over four years on new homes worth up to €400,000.

    - Buyers of homes costing between €400,000 and €600,000, will also be entitled to the €20,000

    - The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme is being extended by two years to the end of 2018 to help those not buying new homes.

    -  The income ceiling for the rent to room scheme is to be increased by €2,000 meaning applicants can take in €14,000 a year tax free.

    - The level of interest relief for landlords is to be increased to 80 per cent and the full 100 per cent will be restored over number of years through annual 5 per cent increases.

    -  Mr Donohoe said 800 new gardaí would be recruited in 2017.

    - Funding for the Department of Defence is to increase by €16 million

    - A total of €15 million will be provided to help deliver high speed broadband to rural areas.

    - Mr Donohoe said some 4,500 additional front line staff including gardaí, nurses and teachers, would be recruited.

  • 17:48

    The Depaul homeless charity has urged the prompt delivery of measures announced in today’s Budget to address the housing shortage and homeslessness.

    Chief executive of Depaul, Kerry Anthony, welcomed the announcement of €1.2 billion in funding for housing programmes and the move towards the delivery of 47,000 social homes by 2021.

    However, the charity warned that to end homeslessness, it was essential that the Government focus on long-term housing solutions and provide intensive in-reach support to the people who access emergency accommodation.  

  • 17:49
  • 17:58
  • 18:04

    Virtually ignored since the economic collapse, the challenges presented by climate change have been addressed for the first time in seven years in this budget, writes political correspondent Harry McGee.

    Both Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe outlined a number of specific if modest measures to help Ireland meet its mid-century target of a low-carbon economy, and to begin fulfilling its obligations under the Paris Accord.

    However, those measures were derided by the Green Party as amounting to “next to nothing” and said there was nothing in the budget that suggested a sustainable future.

    “We are increasingly shamed in the international community for our lack of action on climate change,” said Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. “This budget makes things worse. There is no increase in overseas aid. There is no funding for major new public transport projects and no mention of investing in cycling and walking as more sustainable and healthy transport modes. There is no effort to reduce the sales of Diesel cars and no new initiatives to set Ireland on the path to being a clean economy.”  

  • 18:15

    Sinn Féin spokesperson for finance Pearse Doherty told RTÉ that Budget 2017 “doesn’t transform anything”.

    “It has done what Bertie Ahern would have done if he was still in power: it’s basically make sure that anybody and anyone was satisfied so it’s politically proofed but it actually doesn’t transform anything,” Mr Doherty told the RTÉ Drivetime programme.

    “I do not believe at all that it delivers for first time buyers. They have a nice, snazzy, focus group-led headline there in terms of a ‘help-to-buy scheme’.

    “The childcare package is to be welcomed, although we need to see the detail of that... we need to make sure the sector itself is properly resourced.”  

  • 18:22

    Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy is questioning the Government’s commitment to ensuring that more jobs are created in regional areas.

    The Longford Westmeath TD told Midlands 103 that a €3m increase in funding for Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland is ‘miniscule’ and does not go far enough.

    He added that the unemployment rate in the midlands region is 3% higher than the rest of the country.

    "The state agencies involved need more support to ensure that they attract more investment and support existing employment."

  • 18:26

    Who were the top five winners and losers of Budget 2017?

    First time buyers, social welfare recipients, working parents, PAYE workers and alcohol drinkers have done well this year, writes Rachel Flaherty,

    However, smokers, minimum wage earners, public sector workers, unemployed youths and fizzy drink consumers will not be happy with today’s budget announcements.  

  • 18:28
  • 18:29
  • 18:31
  • 18:35
  • 18:41

    Budget 2017  has been met with mixed reaction in Ballinasloe  in east Galway - a town showing little signs of a return to pre-recessionary times, writes Emer Connolly.

    The retention of the 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality in Budget 2017 has been welcomed locally, as was the €15 million towards progressing the national broadband plan.

    However, local Sinn Féin Councillor Dermot Connolly said the Government did not go far enough with the increase in tax credits for the self-employed which he hoped would rose to €1,300.

    He also said that while the recruitment of 800 new gardaí is a positive move, efforts needed be made to reopen shut Garda stations - some of which were in rural areas near Ballinasloe.

  • 18:45
  • 18:46
  • 18:48
  • 18:52

    That’s all from today’s Budget 2017 live blog. You can still keep up to date with the latest reactions, updates and budget analysis  here by checking out our main story coverage.