From fuel hikes to the Christmas bonus to business and art...

From fuel hikes to the Christmas bonus to business and art...
From fuel hikes to the Christmas bonus to business and art...
From the gasoline pump hike to the Christmas bonus and cash for Covid companies to swimming pools and video games: Ten Things You Need to Know About Budget 2021.

1. The carbon dioxide taxes hit the motorists now, but the heating will be spared until next summer

The expected increase in carbon dioxide tax of € 7.50 was achieved, but will only affect heating costs for homes after May 1, 2021. This means that increases in coal, gas and home heating oil will only be made after the winter, grim enough for the ongoing pandemic. However, the changes will increase the cost of gasoline and diesel from midnight.

The increase in the CO2 tax is expected to bring in EUR 108 million in the next year. Planned increases over the next ten years are part of Ireland’s contribution to combating climate change. Public Spending Minister Michael McGrath pledged that the raised funds will help protect vulnerable people as well as finance home retrofitting for energy efficiency. The fuel allowance for vulnerable households will be increased by EUR 3.50 per week to EUR 28 to compensate those on lower incomes for the additional costs they are likely to incur from the increased carbon tax.

2. Full Christmas bonus this year

More than 1.4 million people who receive social benefits, including the state pension and Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), will receive a full additional weekly payment – the Christmas Bonus – on the first weekend of December. The bonus is usually only paid to people receiving long-term social assistance and jobseekers who have received payments for more than 15 months. Mr. McGrath said that given “unprecedented circumstances” this year, the 15 month requirement will be reduced to four months for this year only. He said the vast majority of people currently on the PUP will receive a Christmas bonus if they remain unemployed in early December.

3. Up to € 5,000 per week for companies affected by Covid-19

The new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will be offered to companies affected by pandemic restrictions and will offer payments of up to € 5,000 per week. The system will operate as long as level 3 – or higher – restrictions from the government plan “Living with Covid-19” are in effect. The sectors that are currently qualifying are lodging, food and arts, recreation and entertainment. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said other sectors could qualify if higher restrictions were put in place. Payments are based on a company’s average weekly sales in 2019. You will need to provide evidence that their sales have been severely impacted. The maximum weekly payment is € 5,000.

4. Taoiseach’s Shared Island Initiative for € 500 million

Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s Shared Island Initiative to promote collaboration with the Northern Irish Executive calls for € 500 million in capital funding over five years. Mr. McGrath has not set out in detail what this money is being spent on. Instead, he said it would “encourage new investment and development opportunities on a north / south basis and support the implementation of important cross-border projects as set out in the government program”.

Possible projects include the A5 Derry road project, the connection of the Ulster Canal from Clones to Upper Lough Erne and a Sligo to the Enniskillen Greenway.

5. Funding of swimming pools and attraction of sporting events

A € 45 million package has been announced for sport, but no specific funding has been announced for organizations under pressure such as the GAA, the Irish Football Association or the Irish Rugby Football Union.

These organizations share 40 million euros announced earlier this year. Sport Ireland, which provides government funding to sports organizations, including major field sports, will receive an additional € 36 million for the next year. Additional funds of EUR 7 million will go into the “large sports infrastructure”, with swimming pools being designated as an area for expenditure. Initiatives to attract major sporting events to Ireland are funded with EUR 2 million.

6. The job loss this year is 320,000

According to Donohoe, 320,000 jobs are expected to be lost this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is having a disproportionate impact on young people. Its officials expect 155,000 jobs to be restored over the next year. If increased lockdown restrictions are put in place, job losses could be worse. Mr McGrath said the Department of Social Protection is being funded to support the incomes of at least 370,000 jobseekers in 2021 along with 350,000 people under the Employment Wage Grant Program (EWSS).

7. The wage subsidies are to be continued until the end of 2021

Mr Donohoe said the current EWSS should continue through March 31, 2021. However, he said a similar system will be needed by the end of 2021 to provide higher levels of security to businesses in the most uncertain times. He promised, “There will be no cliff to this vital scheme.”

Mr Donohoe said the government would decide how to extend it when the economic conditions are clearer. He hopes Ireland can raise EUR 2.5 billion in EU funding to cover the costs of the previous Temporary Wage Grant Program (TWSS).

8. More health workers, gardaí and teachers

According to McGrath, “an unprecedented additional 4 billion euros” will be used in healthcare to recruit up to 16,000 additional jobs. There will be 1,146 additional beds in hospitals by the end of 2021, increasing the number of intensive care beds from 255 pre-Covid to 321.

By the end of 2020, up to 620 new Gardaí are to be recruited in addition to an expected strength of 14,500. 500 civilian workers are hired to clear Gardaí for frontline work. 7.5 million euros will be spent on vehicles in the Lake Garda fleet.

More than 300 primary school teachers are hired to bring the student-to-teacher ratio down to 25: 1. Almost 1,000 new assistants for special needs are to be hired.

9. Cash for roads, public transport and schools

Mr McGrath said that EUR 10 billion is being spent on “critical projects in all regions of our country”. It includes road projects such as the N56 in Donegal, the N4 in Sligo, the N5 in Mayo and the N22 and Dunkettle Interchange in Cork. Forty-one intercity rail cars will be purchased and plans to sign contracts for up to 600 electric cars, as McGrath put it, “to ensure our economic recovery is green” as part of the DART + project in Dublin. He said money will be spent to advance the long-promised BusConnects and Metrolink projects.

10. Boost for film and video game sectors

According to Donohoe, the film industry was “badly affected” by pandemic shutdowns. As a result, he announced that the tax incentive under Section 481 to promote filming in the regions will be extended for another year until the end of 2023.

He also announced that it would begin developing a tax credit for the digital gambling sector. The aim is for it to come into force from January 2022. He said the sector has seen “exponential growth” over the past decade and there is potential synergy with the established film and animation sectors to help video game job creation.

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