Louth TD, Fergus O'Dowd says progress has been made with budget 2018, but there's much more work to do next year

Tia Clarke

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Tia Clarke

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tia.clarke@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Fergus O'Dowd

Louth Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd

Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd has welcomed the positive changes announced with budget 2018 but says there's much more to do in 2018. 

"In Budget 2018 we increased the entry point to the higher rate of income tax by €750 per annum, from €33,800 to €34,550. Together with the USC cut this is worth €500/600 to an average family on two incomes," the Louth TD said.  

In Budget 2018, Fine Gael also reduced the Universal Social Charge. This is the fourth such increase the party has introduced, designed to ease the tax burden on low and middle-income people. 

Over the last three Budgets, Fine Gael also increased the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,150 to help benefit self-employed people and encourage job creation in the North East. 

Fergus O'Dowd said: “It’s also good to note that as the economy has improved, wage rates have started to grow again. The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides for sustainable wage growth over the 3-year period 2018 to 2020 ranging from 6.2% to 7.4%.

"These increases to pay will bring 90% of public servants out of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation, by the end of 2020." 

“Families with young children are also now benefitting from the childcare measures introduced by the Government in September. A universal childcare subsidy of up to €1,040 per year, for children aged from 6-months up to starting their free preschool year at 36 months was introduced in September 2017." 

The Louth Fine Gael TD continued: “In addition, there is a further targeted childcare support for families on lower incomes, worth up to €7,500 per year for children aged 6 months to 15 years of age.

“We also introduced Paternity Benefit for new fathers this year for the first time in the history of the State. The most recent figures show that since its introduction, over 27,000 fathers have taken up this option of Paternity Benefit nationally. 751 have availed of this new scheme in County Louth alone.”  

A Fine Gael spokesperson said: "The gains we have made since the dark days of the recession are hard won and they are fragile, especially in the context of Brexit. However, we are in a position to protect our economic recovery and use some of the resources it provides to give everyone a fair chance, and the opportunity to reach their full potential."  

Fergus O'Dowd continued: “The Government is continuing its investment in education, health, childcare, and housing and giving a little back to those who have had to make sacrifices during what were very tough times for our country. 

“We have much more to do to ensure we protect the most vulnerable people in our society and that is what I will continue to campaign for in 2018.”