Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Joe O’Brien TD, announced €341 million allocation for rural and community development in Budget 2021.
The Skerries based TD also welcomed funding for sustainable transport and targeted measures in the budget to provide supports for lower income households through redistribution of money raised through the carbon tax to increase the Qualified Child Payment, the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance.
Speaking about the Budget announced on 13th October, Minister O’Brien said:
“Broadly speaking this is a hugely positive budget with key investments in areas that have faced unprecedented challenges in the face of the pandemic. It will see the reduction in pupil teacher ratios at primary level and €1.8 billion in funding for sustainable transport, cycling, walking and greenways and this will help facilitate the delivery of the Fingal Coastal Way, which will be a wonderful amenity for all our towns and villages in Fingal.
“The introduction of a carbon tax may have concerned those on lower incomes however we have fundamentally changed how carbon tax revenues are used. The carbon tax is now an anti-poverty tool, revenues from it will raise the incomes of those who are poorest and help tackle child poverty. It will fund annual increases of €364 to the Qualified Child Payment, €260 to the Living Alone Allowance and an annual increase of €112 to the Fuel Allowance. These payments directly target the more financially vulnerable in our communities and are a direct result of the work of the Green Party.
“Measures that will benefit other vulnerable people in our communities included an increase to the carers support grant by €150, an extra five million in home care hours, €5 million for community-based dementia support service, €100 million has been committed to disability supports under the new Children’s Disability Network, an increase of 990 new SNAs and an increase of €5.5m to the Hot School Meals Programme.
“With the ongoing harsh impact of Covid-19 being felt by many in our communities, I was particularly pleased to see the Budget extends the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) until April 1st and those on PUP will receive the Christmas Bonus from the Department of Social Protection. A much-needed increase €1.9 billion has been allocated to the Health budget bringing it to over €22 billion which will ensure we are best placed to deal with the ongoing implications of the pandemic and crucially €38 million for new mental health measures. The potential impact of Covid on our mental well-being cannot be overstated, Covid has brought about dramatic changes as to how we live our lives and how it significantly curtailed our time spent with family, friends and loved ones.”
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