Budget 2015: CARDI Blog
- Republic of Ireland
Budget 2015 in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) brought good news to the over 65s with a return of the Christmas bonus and a €100 payment toward water charges for those in receipt of the household allowance or winter fuel allowance.
Announced on 14 October 2014 by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, the budget was heralded as the “end of austerity” budget, with no cuts to social welfare for the first time since 2009.
The key points relevant to older people are outlined below by Conor Breen, CARDI's policy officer in this CARDI blog:
The Christmas bonus, a yearly payment in December for pensioners, carers and long-term social welfare recipients, will be paid at a rate of 25% in 2014. The living alone allowance has been increased to €9 per week.
Any older person who is currently in receipt of the household allowance or winter fuel allowance will receive a payment of €100 toward water charges, which will be introduced in January 2015.
The controversial “pension levy”, a measure introduced in 2011 whereby 0.6% of private pension saving was taken to fund the Government Jobs Initiative, is to be phased out. Having been raised to 0.75% of private pension saving, the levy will be reduced to 0.15% in 2015 and the Government have committed to ending the levy entirely after that.
Pension providers in Ireland have noted a significant fall in the uptake in private pension plans since the introduction of the levy and large numbers of people stopping saving into their private pension schemes so the end of the levy may signal a recovery in the numbers of people saving for retirement.
The top rate of income tax is to be reduced from 41% to 40%. There will, however, be a new Universal Social Charge rate for incomes in excess of €70,000 and for self-employed people earning in excess of €100,000.
On the other end of the income scale, people with an income of €12,000 or less will no longer have to pay the Universal Social Charge.
There will be an increase in the health budget of €213 million over the next three years, with the expenditure ceiling set at €13.1 billion for 2015, €13.25 billion in 2016 and €13.29 billion in 2017.
New spending provisions will see the introduction of free GP care for the under 6s and the over 70s in 2015, pending agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation. The prescription levy has been frozen at €2.50 per item in 2015.
There is a commitment in Budget 2015 of €25 million to address the growing problem of delayed discharge from acute hospitals. Many of the 700 people on delayed discharge are older people awaiting a nursing home place or home care support. However, the budget for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme “Fair Deal” scheme has not been increased for 2015.