Mixed reaction to Donohoe’s budget

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THE details of Budget 2019 have been met with a mixed reaction in South Dublin County, with the local St Vincent de Paul area president and the CEO of South Dublin Chamber both expressing concerns about the budget.

The details of Budget 2019 were released by the government on Tuesday, with changes including a €5 increase in weekly social welfare payments and the restoration of the Christmas bonus.

minister paschalThe Qualified Child Payment, which is paid to parents on social welfare, will increase by €2.20 per week for under 12s and by €5.20 per week for over 12s.

There will be a €25 increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, while funding for early learning and childcare will receive a boost of up to €90m, and the threshold to access the Affordable Childcare Scheme will be increased.

In relation to health, there will be a €25 increase in the weekly income threshold for GP visit cards, people over 70-years-old will have their prescription charge reduced by 50cent, and there will be a €1.06 billion increase in healthcare funding.

In housing, an extra €121m has been set aside for HAP, there will be a €300m affordable housing scheme and €1.25 billion has been earmarked for the delivery of 10,000 new social homes next year.

Commenting on the budget, Marie Cronin, the SVP area president for Clondalkin and Ballyfermot, told The Echo: “It’s a bit early to know how the budget will affect people, we’ll need to be out on the ground for three or four weeks to see how it will affect people.

“A lot of people in the areas we cover, like Tallaght, Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard, are living in hotel accommodation – and I don’t think they’ve done enough in the budget to get social homes built.

“I think the slight increase in the Children’s Allowance and the restoration of the Christmas bonus will benefit people.”

Ms Cronin also added that she was concerned about how the increased VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sector, which will be raised to 13.5 per cent, will affect people in emergency accommodation.

Peter Byrne, the CEO of South Dublin Chamber, is also concerned about the increased tourism and hospitality rate and the affect this might have on the hospitality industry.

Mr Byrne told The Echo: “The removal of the 9 per cent VAT rate for the hospitality sector is a big step backwards.

“Apart from the contribution this industry makes in bringing spending into the county, it is one of our biggest employers across many skills levels, with a good mix of part-time and full-time employment.”

However, Mr Byrne added that South Dublin Chamber is pleased with the investment in infrastructure that has been included in the budget, and overall said that Budget 2019 has “a lot of good in it, but there are also some missed opportunities.

“We’re pleased that the government is putting money into the rainy day fund, and we’re pleased that they’ve put money into things like childcare and housing.”

Looking at the housing element of Budget 2019, Anthony McGee, the director REA McGee estate agents in Tallaght Village, said: “The budget didn’t do anything for landlords and I think it’s incumbent on the government to encourage landlords to stay in the industry.

“There’s landlords leaving the industry in droves, so there’s a huge gap in the market for landlords.”

Dublin South West Independent Minister, Katherine Zappone, praised the government for the increased funding in childcare, and said: “The €89m secured in the budget maintains the momentum of my past budgets. Government investment in childcare has jumped by 117 per cent since 2015.

“For local families it will deliver real differences. For example, a lone parent on net annual income of €26,000 with one child aged 2-years and using 40 hours of childcare will get €175 per week.

“A family with a net income of €30,000 with two young children using 25 hours of childcare would be entitled to €220 per week.

“The measures announced will ensure that we continue moving forward, because for the sake of our local families in Dublin South West there can be no going back.”

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