Belfast Telegraph

Republic's workers to get extra week's pay

By Brian Hutton

Every worker in the Republic has been promised an extra week's wages ahead of an imminent general election.

In its final Budget before the poll, the Fine Gael/Labour coalition unveiled a €750 million (£559m) bonanza.

The only tax rise announced was 50 cent on 20 cigarettes.

Young families and pensioners in particular were targeted with a series of measures putting cash back in their pockets.

Key among the pledges is the reform of the much-despised Universal Social Charge.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said an overhaul of the tax, brought in after the country was saddled with billions of euro in banking debts, would save citizens hundreds of euro.

"All workers will gain a full extra week's wages," he said.

After years of public sector cutbacks, the coalition announced more doctors, more nurses and more gardai.

Young parents were wooed with a family-friendly education and welfare spending package.

Among the sweeteners is free childcare for children from three years of age until five and a half, or until primary school.

Child Benefit payments are to go up by €5 from next year, to €140 (£104) a month per child.

Two weeks paternity leave is being introduced for the first time. Free GP care, currently only available to under sixes (and over 70s), is being extended to all children under 12 years.

There's a €3 hike in the weekly old age pension.

Revaluations due on homes next year for Local Property Tax were postponed for three years.

There was no change to the price of wine, beer or spirits or for petrol and diesel.

Belfast Telegraph


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