Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


7:45 pm

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Like other speakers, I have spoken to many people today who said this is a good budget. I welcome the measures for families, including in childcare. The cost of childcare is one of the main issues I have been working on in recent years. Today's measure has changed things and is a good support for families.

We spoke about health and education. Primary school children will have free books in 2023. It will be important to look at post-primary education in that respect. All of this funding is welcome. I welcome the measures to give people access to medical cards and GP cards. This is a major issue. I have spoken to people who believe they should have been getting the medical card or GP card and now they can do so. What steps are being taken to increase GP numbers to meet this new policy? This is an important part of the budget and I wonder what steps have been taken on that.

The €40 increase in the working family payment threshold means many more families will be able to avail of this vital support. It is my understanding, however, that even though this is a low-income payment, those who receive it are still not eligible for fuel allowance. I ask that this be checked because it will need to be looked at.

I welcome the decrease in the VAT rate on newspapers. I received many phone calls in my office today from people in the tourism industry who are concerned about VAT supports for the sector, which could run out early next year. I fully support the industry and ask that we do all we can to support, including continuing the VAT supports.

I welcome the reduction in third level fees and the investment into the sector, particularly for apprenticeships. We need to invest more in that area. Will resources and funding be provided to third level institutions to ensure that the reduction in third level fees will support more people going to college? As the Minister will know, Carlow is a now a university town and we are proud of that. We should make sure that anyone who wants to go to college is able to do so and people are not prevented from going to college because they cannot afford it or cannot afford the fees. I ask that this be made a priority.

This week I met farmers in Carlow. They have major concerns, one of which relates to information on what will happen with the energy support schemes. They spoke about solar panels. They want to work with the Department to do what they can. They spoke about what we can do to encourage young farmers to stay on. I also welcome the €500 million to fund the roll-out of the new CAP strategic plan.


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