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fuel bill savings Revealed: The Budget perks in store for pensioners and workers

State pension and social welfare rates to increase by €5 per week


People can claim up to 30pc of household power bills on the days they work from home.. Stock image

People can claim up to 30pc of household power bills on the days they work from home.. Stock image

People can claim up to 30pc of household power bills on the days they work from home.. Stock image

Half a million people working from home are set to benefit from a clawback on heating, electricity and broadband bills in the Budget, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Next week’s Budget will also include changes to income tax bands that will allow two-thirds of workers keep more of their pay.

Measures to be announced will mean people can claim up to 30pc of household power bills on the days they work from home.

However, diesel and petrol prices, already at their highest since 2014, are set to creep up further again with an increase in the carbon tax.

The extra €7.50 per tonne of carbon will immediately translate at the pump to an extra €1.48 on the cost of a 60-litre fill of diesel and €1.28 on a fill of petrol.

It comes as the Budget White Paper released last night confirms a deficit of €13bn for this year.

However, it also shows that if there were no new taxes imposed there would be an extra €4bn in the system next year.

The SundayWorld understands the Budget will spend big on health, with the promise of at least 1,000 new nurses and frontline staff recruited in the healthcare system.

There will be action on period poverty, with free sanitary pads and tampons to be provided, on a limited basis at first and possibly confined to healthcare centres, while free contraceptives will also be phased in.

Meanwhile, the payback on heat, light and broadband for people who are working from home will be made easier to apply for, in comparison with the current convoluted system.

Anything up to a three-fold increase on the present allowance that can be claimed for heat and electricity used for working from home is on the table.

The Government is keen to ensure workers can actually claim the allowance back on their taxes as the current take-up is quite low.

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The system will still be vouched and based upon bills for heat, light and broadband on the days of working from home and the allowance will cover 30pc of the bills on those days.

The tax package will also widen the amount of money taxed at the lower rate. The benefit will be targeted at two-thirds of workers and ensure those on low to middle incomes benefit.

Also in the Budget, the state pension and social welfare rates are set to be increased by €5.

The Budget will see around €250m allocated to health in a special package to tackle waiting lists, which ballooned during the pandemic.

Furthermore, at least 500 extra gardaí are to be commissioned into training at Templemore amid growing public concern about an upsurge in random assaults and anti-social behaviour.

The extra numbers are still being argued over, but both main coalition parties see a higher law-and-order profile as offering a vital electoral edge over Sinn Féin.

There will also be a significant childcare package, and employees here could be subsidised further under the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which will continue for Covid-affected business until the end of the first quarter in 2022.

Ministers are viewing this as a means of enabling more
people to get back to work and off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

The minimum wage will rise to €10.50 per hour, as recommended by the Low Pay Commission.

There will, however, be a major rise in carbon tax on fossil fuels across the board.

The carbon tax increase will be the third in a series of pre-planned annual hikes between 2019 and 2030.

Its impact will also be felt on home heating fuels, adding €19.40 to a 900-litre tank of oil and €16.95 to the average annual natural gas bill.

Those increases are postponed until next May.

Coal and peat will also become more expensive from May with a 40kg bag of coal costing 89c more and a 12.5kg bale of peat briquettes costing 20c extra.

However, a major welfare package will cushion the impact of the carbon tax increases on the less well-off.

The details are still being worked out, but civil servants believe they have a working model.

Income tax will not rise, and neither will VAT.

Nor will the drinks corner of the ‘old reliables’ be hit – with alcoholic beers and wines escaping any hikes.

Cigarette prices though are now likely to be slapped with an increase as the Department of Health is pushing for 50c extra on a pack of 20 cigarettes.

Indirect taxation levers are mainly being left untouched for fear of adding to inflation without actually increasing the State’s revenues.

The increase in healthcare staff will be “across the board”, according to a well-placed source, while there will be more hospital and related facility beds in general and a pronounced increase in ICU beds, even though the worst of the Covid-19 scourge may have passed.

However, a healthcare source said: “We struggled to spend a lot of our recruitment budget in the last year.

“Quite apart from aviation disruption to people relocating, it really is the case that the numbers are just not there in many areas.”

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