Budget 2007

Social Welfare

The total cost of the social welfare improvements is €1,321.82 million in 2007 and €1,406.31 million in a full year.

Older people

There is an increase of €16 per week for the following pensioners:
• State Pension (Contributory)
• State Pension (Transition)
• Invalidity Pension recipients aged 65
• Widow’s and Widower’s Contributory Pension recipients aged over 66
• Deserted Wife’s Benefit recipients aged over 66
• Death Benefit recipients aged over 66
(January 2007)

State Pension (Non-Contributory) increases by €18 to €200 per week. (January 2007)

The means disregard for State Pension (Non-Contributory) increases by €10 to €30 per week.

The employment earnings disregard for State Pension (Non-Contributory) increases by €100 to €200 per week.

Any additional amount of State Pension which is in excess of Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate is disregarded when calculating Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement entitlement. (January 2007)

Entitlement to a Companion Free Travel Pass is extended to those aged 66 to 74 inclusive, who are certified as medically unfit to travel alone. (March 2007)

Telephone Allowance Scheme is to be extended to include mobile phones.(April 2007)

Other payments

There is an increase of €20 per week for the following:
• Invalidity Pension recipients aged under 65
• Widow’s and Widower’s Non-Contributory Pension and women in receipt of Deserted Wife’s Allowance
• Disablement Pension
• Jobseeker’s Benefit and Allowance
• Illness Benefit
• Disability Allowance
• Blind Pension
• Supplementary Welfare Allowance
• Farm Assist
• One-Parent Family Payment

There is an increase of €19.10 to €213.70 per week for Death Benefit Pensioners under 66.

Guardian’s payments increase by €20 to €158 per week. (January 2007)

Qualified adults

There is a special increase of €23.70 per week for the Qualfied Adult Allowances (QAAs) aged 66 and over of State Pension (Contributory), State Pension (Transition) and Invalidity Pension over the next three years, to bring those QAAs up to the level of the State Pension (Non-Contributory). (January 2007)

The upper ceiling for entitlement to tapered QAA payments increases by €30, from €250 to €280 per week.

There is an increase of €10.70 per week for State Pension (Contributory) and State Pension (Transition) QAAs aged under 66.

The increases for other QAAs are as follows:
• Increase of €11.90 per week for State Pension (Non-Contributory)
• Increase of €14.30 per week for Invalidity Pension QAAs aged under 66
• Increase of €13.30 per week for all other QAA payments
(January 2007)

There will be provision for the qualified adult’s entitlement to the QAA for the duration of entitlement of a State Pensioner. The QAA will be paid directly to the qualified adults of State Pensioners. (September 2007)

Carers

Carer’s Allowance increases by €18 to €218 per week for recipients aged 66 and over. There is an increase of €20 to €200 per week for recipients of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and Constant Attendance Allowance aged under 66.
(January 2007)

Respite Care Grant increases by €300 to €1,500 for each care recipient. (June 2007)

The weekly income disregard for Carer’s Allowance increases by €30 to €320 (single) and by €60 to €640 (couple). (April 2007)

The earnings threshold for entitlement to Carer’s Benefit increases by €30 to €320 per week. (April 2007)

Recipients of Carer’s Allowance or Benefit who previously received Illness or Jobseeker’s Benefit can revert to that payment at the same rate as previously paid if more beneficial to them. (May 2007)

A new additional means-tested payment equivalent to up to half of the Carer’s Allowance rate for certain people with another Social Welfare entitlement will be introduced.(September 2007)

Social welfare payments and work

The upper income threshold for entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment increases by €25, from €375 to €400 per week. (May 2007)

Credited contributions will be provided for recipients of One-Parent Family Payment who take time off work following the birth of a child. (April 2007)

A daily earnings disregard of €20 per day is being introduced, for up to 3 days per week, for Jobseeker’s Allowance and Farm Assist recipients with children. (September 2007)

There is an increased daily earnings disregard of €7.30, from €12.70 to €20 for Jobseeker’s Allowance and Farm Assist recipients without children. (September 2007)

The assessment of spouse’s earnings will be reformed for Jobseeker’s Allowance/PRETA /Disability Allowance/Farm Assist recipients so as to reward work. (September 2007)

Entitlement to Back To Work Allowance is extended to those who are in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance for 2 years or more at a weekly rate of less than €50.79 (single) or €78.72 (couple). (March 2007)

The redundancy payment threshold is raised by €31,054 to €50,000 for disqualification to entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit for up to 9 weeks. (February 2007)

Those in receipt of Illness Benefit for 2 years, and who subsequently undertake employment of less than 26 weeks duration, can return to Illness Benefit entitlement at the same rate as previously paid. (May 2007)

Maternity and Adoptive Benefit

The reckonable weekly earnings threshold increases from €332 to €350, for determination of entitlement to earnings-related Maternity and Adoptive Benefit. (January 2007)

There is an increase of €25.20 in minimum rate to €207.80 per week
(January 2007)

There will be an extra 4 weeks Maternity Benefit which increases to 26 weeks. (March 2007)

Rent Supplement

Recipients of Rent Supplement, who are on a Local Authority housing list under the Rent Accommodation Scheme, may take up full time employment and remain eligible for Rent Supplement. (April 2007)

There is an increased Rent Supplement household income disregard applicable to those:
• taking up part-time employment
• availing of an employment opportunity
• in receipt of a maintenance payment
The disregard is 50% of any additional income up to €200 per week, subject to a minimum disregard of €75. (April 2007)

Increased capital disregard for entitlement to Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement and Supplementary Welfare Allowance from €520 to €5,000 and the assessment will be reformed in line with that of other schemes. (April 2007)

Education

The qualifying period for Back To Education Allowance is reduced from 3 to 2 years in respect of Illness Benefit recipients. (September 2007)

Immediate entitlement to Back To Education Allowance is extended to people made redundant provided they have an entitlement to statutory redundancy and are entitled to a social welfare payment.(September 2007)

Entitlement to a €32 per week Out of Pocket Expenses payment is extended to all those participating in the Education, Training & Development option of the Back To Education Programme. (May 2007)

Family

The maximum personal rate of Deserted Wife’s Benefit will be paid, subject to contribution conditions, where the annual income does not exceed €20,000. (May 2007)

A transitional payment of half-rate Deserted Wife’s Benefit for 6 months is being introduced where a recipient’s annual income exceeds €20,000. (May 2007)

The lower and higher Child Benefit rates increase by €10 per month. The new monthly rates are €160 and €195. (April 2007)

All three Qualified Child Allowance (former Child Dependant Allowance) are standarised to a single higher rate of €22 per week. (January 2007)

Family Income Supplement weekly income thresholds increase by amounts from €15 to €185, depending on family size. (January 2007)

The rate of payment of Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance increases by €60 per child to €180 for 2-11 year olds and by €95 per child to €285 for 12-22 year olds. (June 2007)

There is additional funding of €3 million for the School Meals Programme.
(2007)

Guardian’s Payment (Contributory and Non-Contributory) is disregarded from assessment for Supplementary Welfare Allowance and Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement. (May 2007)

The spouse’s income threshold for entitlement to a half-rate Qualified Child Allowance increases by €50, from €350 to €400 per week for recipients of the following payments:
Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit, Injury Benefit and Health and Safety Benefit. (January 2007)

People with disabilities

Entitlement to the full rate of €185.80 Disability Allowance is extended to all people resident in institutions. (January 2007)

Entitlement to Bereavement Grant is extended to the next of kin of deceased recipients of Disability Allowance aged 16 to 22. (May 2007)

The capital disregard for Disability Allowance increases by €30,000 to €50,000. (June 2007)

There is additional funding of €1.9 millon for Comhairle for the development of a personal advocacy service for people with disabilities and for the implementation of the Department of Social and Family Affairs Disability Sectoral Plan. (2007)

Fuel Allowance

The rate of the National Fuel Allowance increases by €4 to €18 per week. (January 2007)

The income threshold for eligibility to Fuel Allowance increases from €51 to €100 per week

PRSI

The threshold for payment of 2% Health Contribution increases from €440 to €480 per week and the annual threshold increases from €22,880 to €24,960.

The threshold for employee PRSI increases from €300 to €339 per week
An additional 0.5% Health Contribution on earnings over €100,100 per annum is being introduced.

The earnings ceiling for PRSI increases by €2,200 from €46,600 to €48,800.

People on Farm Assist are permitted to make PRSI contributions. (January 2007)

Bereavement

The Bereavement Grant increases by €215, from €635 to €850. (Budget Day)

The Widowed Parent Grant increases by €1,300, from €2,700 to €4,000. (Budget Day)

Funding

There is additional funding of €750,000 for the Entitlement Awareness Campaigns

The Family Support Agency gets additional funding of €1.5 million for marriage, child and bereavement counselling and other services.

There are once-off grants totalling €500,000 for carers’ organisations.

Schedule for increases

January
Increases for recipients of Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Illness Benefit, Maternity Benefit, One-Parent Family Payment, Family Income Supplement, Farm Assist and Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

February
Recipients of certain long-term payments such as Widow(er)s, Carers and Invalidity will receive their increase in mid-February backdated to January along with their new payable order books. Increases for certain other long-term payments such as State pensions and Disability Allowance will be paid by a special once-off payment in mid-February to cover 12 weeks payment to end of March when new payable order books will be issued.

April
Child Benefit customers paid by electronic methods will receive their increase in full from April 2007.

May
Child Benefit customers on book payments will receive their increase through a special payment in May which will be backdated to April.

Maximum Weekly Rates of Social Welfare Payments

Claimants

Social Insurance Payments
Present
New
State Pension (Contributory)
- under age 80 193.30 209.30
- aged 80 and over 203.30 219.30
State Pension (Transition)
- age 65 193.30 209.30
Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension/Deserted Wife's Benefit
- under age 66 171.30 191.30
- aged 66 and under age 80 193.30 209.30
- aged 80 and over 203.30 219.30
Invalidity Pension
- under age 65 171.30 191.30
- aged 65 193.30 209.30
Carer's Benefit/Constant Attendance Allowance 180.70 200.70
Disablement Pension 196.90 216.90
Jobseeker's/Illness/Health & Safety/Injury Benefit 165.80 185.80
Social Assistance Payments
Present
New
State Pension (Non-Contributory)
- aged 66 and under age 80 182.00 200.00
- aged 80 and over 192.00 210.00
Carer's Allowance
- under age 66 180.00 200.00
- aged 66 and over 200.00 218.00
Blind Pension 165.80 185.80
Widow's/Widowers's (Non-Contributory) Pension/ Deserted Wife's/ Prisoner Wife's Allowance 165.80 185.80
One-Parent Family Payment 165.80 185.80
Pre-Retirement/Disability Allowance 165.80 185.80
Supplementary Welfare Allowance 165.80 185.80
Jobseeker's Allowance 165.80 185.80
Farm Assist 165.80 185.80

Other Social Welfare Allowances

Present

New

Maternity/Adoptive Benefit - Minimum rate 182.60 207.80
Guardian's Payment (Contributory)/(Non-Contributory) 138.00 158.00

All Qualified Child Allowances are now paid at €22 per week.

Qualified Adult Allowances

Social Insurance Payments
Present
New
State Pension (Contributory)/(Transition)
- under age 66 128.80 139.50
- aged 66 and over 149.30 173.00
Invalidity Pension
- under age 66 122.20 136.50
- aged 66 and over 149.30 173.00
Jobseeker's/Illness/Health & Safety/Injury Benefit 110.00 123.30

Social Assistance Payments
Present
New
State Pension (Non-Contributory) 120.30 132.20
Blind Pension 110.00 123.30
Pre-Retirement/Disability Allowance 110.00 123.30
Supplementary Welfare Allowance 110.00 123.30
Jobseeker's Allowance 110.00 123.30
Farm Assist 110.00 123.30

Child Benefit (monthly)
Number of Children Present Rate € New Rate €
1 child 150.00 160.00
2 children 300.00 320.00
3 children 485.00 515.00
4 children 670.00 710.00
5 children 855.00 905.00
6 children 1,040.00 1,100.00
7 children 1,225.00 1,295.00
8 children 1,410.00 1,490.00

Family Income Supplement (weekly)
Number of Children Present Income Limit € New Income Limit €
1 child 465.00 480.00
2 children 510.00 550.00
3 children 565.00 625.00
4 children 630.00 720.00
5 children 705.00 820.00
6 children 775.00 910.00
7 children 845.00 1,020.00
8 children 905.00 1,090.00

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is calculated at 60% of the difference between new weekly income (i.e. gross pay less Tax, Employee's PRSI, Health Contribution, Superannuation) and the income limit for your family size.


Income and Other Taxes

Personal Credits increased by €130 single/€260 married to €1,760 single/€3,520 married.

Employee Tax Credit increased by €270 to €1,760

Age Exemption Limits (single/married) increased from €17,000/€34,000 to €19,000/€38,000

Standard Rate Bands
2006 2007
Single €32,000 €34,000
Married one income €41,000 €43,000
Married two incomes €64,000 €68,000
Higher rate reduced by 1% 42% 41%

Other Credits
2006 2007
Widowed person €500 €550
Widowed parent:
Year 1 €3,100 €3,750
Year 2 €2,600 €3,250
Year 3 €2,100 €2,750
Year 4 €1,600 €2,250
Year 5 €1,100 €1,750
Blind Persons:
Single €1,500 €1,760
Married (both blind) €3,000 €3,520
Incapacitated Child €1,500 €3,000
Age Credit:
Single €250 €275
Married €500 €550

Health levy

Threshold increased from €440 per week to €480 per week. Rate increased by 0.5% to 2.5% for earners whose income is in excess of €1,925 per week (€100,100 per annum)

PRSI from 1 January 2007

The PRSI contribution ceiling for employees will increase from €46,600 to €48,800.
The employee weekly threshold for liability to PRSI will increase from €300 to €339.

Mortgage interest relief

The current annual ceiling on the amount of interest that can be allowed on a mortgage is being doubled for first-time buyers from €4,000/€8,000 single/married to €8,000/€16,000 single/married.

The increased relief will be available to all first-time buyers who are in the first seven years of their mortgage.

The ceiling for non-first-time buyers is also being increased, from €2,540/€5,080 single/married to €3,000/€6,000 single/married.

Allowance for rent paid by certain tenants

The maximum level of rent paid for private rented accommodation on which tax relief can be claimed, at the standard rate of tax, is being increased for those aged under 55 years of age, from €1,650 to €1,800 per annum for a single person and from €3,300 to €3,600 per annum for widowed and married persons.

This equates to a tax credit of €360 per annum for single persons and €720 for widowed and married persons.

For those aged 55 years and over, the maximum level of rent paid on which tax relief can be claimed is being increased from €3,300 to €3,600 per annum for a single person and from €6,600 to €7,200 per annum for widowed and married persons.

This equates to a tax credit of €720 per annum for a single person and €1,440 per annum for widowed and married persons.

Childminding relief

Budget 2006 introduced an exemption of up to €10,000 per annum on income from childminding where an individual minds up to three children, who are not their own, in the minder’s own home. If childminding income exceeds this the total amount is taxable, as normal, under self-assessment. The €10,000 limit is being increased to €15,000.

Taxation of Jobseeker’s Benefit – systematic short-time workers

The special tax exemption for Jobseeker’s Benefit paid to systematic short-time workers is being extended indefinitely.

Rent-a-Room Scheme

From 1 January 2007, it is proposed to close off use of the Rent-a-Room Scheme where the rent received is from connected persons who in turn are claiming rent relief.

DIRT administration change

DIRT can currently be refunded to an individual who is exempt from income tax if the person or the person’s spouse is over 65 years of age or permanently incapacitated. The rules relating to such individuals are now being changed so that in future they may notify their financial institution of their status and receive the interest without deduction of DIRT. These changes will be included in the 2007 Finance Bill.

Administrative changes to help taxpayers claim reliefs

A number of changes in administrative procedures are being introduced which will make it easier for taxpayers to claim reliefs to which they are entitled. For 2007 all age-related tax credits will, where possible, be credited automatically to the taxpayer where a verified date of birth can be established through Revenue or Social Welfare records.

A system will be implemented to credit tax relief on trade union subscriptions automatically, based on trade union membership lists. For 2008 it is planned to move, where possible, to automatic repayments in respect of non-reimbursed hospital expenses, prescribed drugs pharmacy costs and certain tuition fees to the extent that this is possible using information from appropriate third parties.

Tax relief due on medical insurance paid by employers that has been subject to benefit-in-kind taxation will be automatically included in the employee tax credit. Work will be progressed on applying similar procedures in due course to nursing home and other medical expenses that qualify for tax relief.

Threshold for tax clearance certificates

The transaction threshold which triggers the requirement for a tax clearance certificate for the award of a public sector contract or grant is being increased from the current €6,500 to €10,000, with effect from 1 January 2007.

Excise and other duties

Tobacco

The excise duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes is being increased by 50 cents (including VAT) with a pro-rata increase on the other tobacco products, with effect from midnight on 6 December 2006.

Reduction in excise duty for home heating oils (Kerosene and LPG)

The excise duty on Kerosene is being reduced from €16 per 1,000 litres to zero. The excise duty on LPG is being reduced from €10 per 1,000 litres to zero. These reductions are effective from 1 January 2007.

Introduction of a VRT relief for electric cars

A VRT relief of 50% for electric cars – cars which can be propelled solely by a rechargeable battery – is being introduced on a pilot one-year basis, with effect from 1 January 2007. Further details will be provided in the Finance Bill.

Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) - Public Consultation

It is planned to change the current VRT system to take greater account of environmental issues, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A public consultation will be undertaken in this regard with a view to making such a move with effect from a target date of 1 January 2008. Submissions are invited from interested parties by 1 March 2007.

Submissions are also being invited from interested parties, by 1 March 2007, in relation to the rebalancing of annual motor tax to provide an incentive for the motoring public to drive cleaner cars and to impose penalties in respect of cars with higher (CO2) emission levels.

VAT

Small and medium size businesses

The VAT registration thresholds for small businesses are being increased from €27,500 to €35,000 in the case of services, and from €55,000 to €70,000 in the case of goods. These increases will take effect from 1 March 2007.

VAT cash accounting threshold

The annual VAT cash accounting threshold for small firms is being increased from €635,000 to €1,000,000 with effect from 1 March 2007.

Less frequent vat returns for small businesses

The frequency of VAT payments, currently six per year, for smaller businesses is being reduced with effect from July 2007. For businesses with a yearly liability of €3,000 or less, the option of filing returns on a half-yearly basis will be available. For businesses with a yearly liability between €3,001 and €14,400, the option of filing returns every four months will be available. This will reduce compliance costs for the firms in question.

VAT relief for conferences

A specific measure which will allow deductibility of VAT on conference-related accommodation expenses will be introduced during 2007.

Reduction of VAT rate on child car seats

The VAT rate on child car seats will be reduced from 21% to 13.5% with effect from 1 May 2007.

Review of VAT on property transactions - public consultation

The Revenue Commissioners, over the last two years, have carried out a review of the current system of applying VAT on property transactions. The review recommends significant changes to the system. It is planned to engage in a wide consultation process with interested parties before deciding on any changes which might appropriately be implemented in the 2008 Finance Act.

Farmer Taxation

Farmers’ VAT flat-rate addition

The farmers’ VAT flat-rate addition is being increased from 4.8% to 5.2% with effect from 1 January 2007.

Livestock VAT rate

The rate of VAT charged by registered farmers and other businesses on the supply of livestock, live greyhounds and the hire of horses remains unchanged at 4.8%.

Farmer stock relief

The existing general 25 per cent stock relief for farmers and the special incentive stock relief of 100 per cent for certain young trained farmers are being extended from 1 January 2007 for a further two years subject to clearance with the European Commission under State aid rules.

Leased land exemption

Certain tax exemptions apply for income derived from certain leases of farmland. From 1 January 2007, a new exemption of €20,000 per annum will be introduced for leases of 10 years or more duration.

Scheme of capital allowances for milk quota

The scheme of capital allowances for milk quota is being amended to ensure this relief is available for quota purchased under the new Milk Quota Trading System.

Extension of stamp duty relief for farm consolidation

Stamp duty relief for exchanges of farmland between two farmers for the purposes of consolidating each farmer’s holdings was introduced on 1 July 2005 for a period of two years. The relief is being extended for a further two years to 30 June 2009. The relief will also be extended to qualifying exchanges of land where only one farmer is consolidating his/her holding. In such cases both farmers can qualify for relief, provided both farmers meet all other conditions of the relief.

Changes to the stamp duty relief for young trained farmers

Stamp duty relief is available for farmers acquiring land, who are aged under 35 and have specific agricultural training. Amendments are now being made to the education criteria and refunds procedure in this relief. Firstly, the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture will become the new minimum education requirement from 31 March 2008; secondly, the qualifying third-level course titles are being updated; and finally, the refunds procedure is being simplified.

Capital Gains Tax retirement relief – disposals of leased land

An exemption from CGT applies in the case of individuals aged 55 and over who dispose of qualifying business or farming assets. In order for a farming asset to qualify under the relief it must have been owned and used for farming purposes for at least ten years prior to disposal. The relief is now being extended, in certain circumstances, to disposals of land where the land had been leased prior to disposal.

Capital Acquisitions Tax agricultural relief – off-farm principal private residences

CAT agricultural relief provides relief from CAT on 90% of the value of a gift or inheritance. In order to qualify for the relief, 80% of a farmer’s total assets (after receipt of the gift/inheritance) must consist of qualifying agricultural assets. Off-farm principal private residences are not considered such assets for the purposes of this relief. This provision is now being amended so that an individual may off-set borrowings on an off-farm principal private residence against the property’s value, for the purpose of the 80% test.

Capital Gains Tax

Increase in threshold for CGT retirement relief

An exemption from CGT applies in the case of individuals aged 55 and over who dispose of qualifying business or farming assets subject to certain conditions. Disposals made to a child or favourite niece/nephew are relieved in full. All other disposals are relieved up to the threshold of €500,000. This threshold is being increased from €500,000 to €750,000 from 1 January 2007.

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty on mortgage deeds

Mortgage deeds, as with many legal documents, are liable to stamp duty (this is a separate stamp duty from that which is applied to the conveyance of property). This is being abolished for mortgage deeds executed on or after 7 December 2006.

New stamp duty exemption for sporting bodies

A new exemption from stamp duty is being introduced for those sporting bodies covered by Section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, which are already entitled to relief from income tax and capital gains tax, subject to certain conditions. The exemption will relate to purchases of land for the purposes of promoting games or sports.

Health

Health-related benefits and entitlements

Increases in various Health Service Executive (HSE) payments (for example, Mobility Allowance, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Infectious Disease Maintenance Allowance etc.) in line with those for social welfare recipients from January 2007.

Health services for older people

Increase in the number of Home Care Packages in 2008 bringing the total to almost 5,000 packages. Home help service to be expanded and improvements to palliative care services, day centres and day care and respite care services.

Significant enhancement of support under the Nursing Home Subvention Scheme. Additional residential care beds will be allocated. Further detail will be provided in the Minister for Health and Children’s speech on Thursday 7 December.

Health services for people with disabilities

Home support and personal assistance services are to be expanded. Additional respite, day services and residential places are to be provided.

Additional multi-disciplinary support to adults and children with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities (including those with autism) are to be provided. There will be a focus on enhancing support and assessment services for children with disabilities, in line with the Disability Act 2005.

Mental health services

Additional community-based mental health day centres, day hospitals and community residential services are to be provided.

The level and range of multi-disciplinary support to adults and children are to be expanded in line with recent mental health strategy. Continued funding to be granted to national action plan on suicide prevention.

Health levy

Weekly threshold for payment of the 2% health levy increases to 480 euro per week from January 2007. For earners whose income is greater than 1,925 euro per week or €100,100 per year, the rate increases to 2.5%

Primary care

Additional staff will be appointed to support roll-out of 100 multi-disciplinary teams nationally. Additional funding will be provided to support the development of a national Chronic Disease Management framework.

Social inclusion

Additional funding to support a range of measures – ranging from implementation of National Drugs Strategy to domestic violence supports. Additional funding to be made available to support expansion of HIV, STD and sexual assault treatment services and improve health services for Travellers.

Alcohol and drug abuse are being specifically targeted with €1 million provided to various voluntary organisations working with victims of alcohol/drug abuse and others to promote responsible attitudes to alcohol. Funding also provided to support organisations which assist persons with alcohol or drug dependencies and promote responsible behaviour towards alcohol consumption. Groups benefiting will include Cuan Mhuire Athy, Aiseirí and Hope House Foxford.

Housing, Employment, Education and Environment

Housing

The ceiling on first time buyer Mortgage Interest Tax Relief to be doubled to €8,000 (single person) and €16,000 (couple). First time buyer Mortgage Interest Tax Relief applies for seven years. The ceiling for non-first time buyers has also increased.

The maximum level of rent on which you can claim tax relief for private rented accommodation increases to €1,800 (single, under 55) and €3,600 (married / widowed person under 55). There are higher maximum levels for those aged over 55 years.

The Greener Homes scheme, operated by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) receives increased funding in 2007 to almost €10 million, to provide grant aid for renewable energy technologies (for example, solar panels).

Employment

As announced in Budget 2006, in March 2007 the duration of paid maternity leave will increase by 4 weeks to 26 weeks and additional unpaid maternity leave will increase by 4 weeks to 16 weeks. This brings the total of paid and unpaid maternity leave to 42 weeks. This increase will apply to women starting maternity leave on or after 1 March 2007.

The maximum earnings limit for Maternity Benefit is increased to €350 a week and the minimum rate of payment is increased to €207.80 a week.

As a result of the increase in tax credits and tax bands the entry point at which people start paying tax is €17,600. This means that employees who are paid the national minimum wage rate will be below the thresholds for paying tax.

The employee tax credit will increase by €270 to €1,760.

Education

People who have been made redundant will be entitled to Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) immediately. The qualifying period for BTEA for people on Illness Benefit will be reduced to 2 years.
People on the Education, Training and Development option of the Back to Education Programme will be entitled to out-of-pocket expenses payment of €32 a week from May 2007.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance increased by €60 for a child aged 2 to 11 and by €95 for a child aged12 to 22.

€3 million additional funding for the School Meals Programme.

Environment (Farming / Rural Economy)

Additional funding for the Bio Heat scheme of grants (for commercial wood burning boilers), to cover the installation of other technologies such as solar panels in commercial premises and for buildings in the non-commercial sector such as community centres and sports.

There are also a number of tax measures in the environment area.

A package of rural development measures was agreed as part of Towards 2016. This package will involve a doubling of Government support for farming in the next rural development period compared to the present one.

New schemes of aid for re-structuring in the food processing sector underpin the adaptation of the agriculture and food sector to the realities in EU and world farming.

Forestry premiums have increased by 15%, REPS payments have increased by 17%.

There will be substantial support for on-farm investment to help meet the requirements of the Nitrates Directive, reflecting the important role that farmers play in protecting the environment.

There are also a number of tax measures and improvements in tax reliefs.

Some of these measures will require EU state-aid approval before they are implemented.

Specific Groups

Services for persons with a disability/National Disability Strategy

Budget changes affecting people with disabilities are made in the context of the National Disability Strategy which promotes greater co-operation between departments in the planning and delivery of services for people with disabilities.

Social welfare
New maximum rate of Disability Allowance and Blind Pension: €185.80 per week (January 2007)

Entitlement to the full rate of Disability Allowance extended to all qualified persons resident in institutions (January 2007)

The amount of capital disregarded from the means test for Disability Allowance increases from €20,000 to €50,000 (June 2007)

Invalidity Pension increased to €191.30 (aged under 65).

Occupational Injuries Benefits Disablement Pension increases to €216.90 per week

Respite Care Grant increases to €1,500 ( June 2007)

Tax
Incapacitated Child Tax Credit increases to €3,000 (January 2007)

Blind Person's Tax Credit increases to €1,720 (single) and €3,520 (married, both spouses blind).

There are to be improvements in the administration of claims for tax refunds for medical expenses.

Funding
Additional funds of €1.9 million are provided to Comhairle for the development of personal advocacy service for persons with a disability and for the implementation of the Department of Social and Family Affairs’ Disability Sectoral Plan.

A 10% increase in funding over the 2006 level was included in the 2007 Estimates for Services for Persons with a Disability/National Disability Strategy. Most of this money is allocated to the health sector. Budget 2007 provides a further €100 million for health-related disability and mental health services. This will provide additional residential, respite and day places, and other service improvements. It will also support the introduction of Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, which provides for assessments of need and service statements for people with disabilities. These provisions will start for children aged under 5 years with effect from 1 June 2007.

The funding will also support the continued implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’, the plan for mental health services,

Once-off grant for Special Olympics Ireland of €2 million.

Funding of €500,000 for carer’s organisations.

Older people

State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Carer’s Allowance for people aged over 66 will increase by €18 a week.

State Pension (Contributory) and other insurance-based payments for people of pension age will increase by €16 a week.
The employment earnings disregard for State Pension (Non-Contributory) will increase to €200 per week.

There is a 10% increase in the age tax credits.

The tax exemption limits for people aged over 65 are increased by €2,000 for single people and €4,000 for married couples.

People who are eligible for a DIRT refund will receive this automatically.

The Qualified Adult Allowance for people aged over 66 is increased by €23.70 and is to be paid directly to the qualified adult.

The Telephone Allowance Scheme will be extended to include mobile phones.

The Companion Free Travel Pass is extended to people aged 66 to 74 who are certified as medically unfit to travel alone.

Page updated: 9 December 2009

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