You are currently viewing COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO IRELAND’S 2024 FINANCIAL AND SOCIAL SUPPORT MEASURES

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO IRELAND’S 2024 FINANCIAL AND SOCIAL SUPPORT MEASURES

Budget 2024 Summary: Stay Updated with Amergin

In 2024, Ireland is experiencing significant financial and social welfare policy changes. 

The Amergin Group provides an in-depth look at these changes, offering expert insights for families, businesses, and individuals.

Families and Caring

1. National Childcare Scheme (From September 2024)

  • Hourly Grant for Childcare: Paid to providers for children at least 24 weeks old. Childminders included.
  • Universal Payment Increase: €2.14/hour (€96.30/week) for up to 45 hours for children up to 15 years, no means test.
  • Enhanced Grants: For households earning under €60,000. Rates vary based on income and child’s age.
    • Example Rates (from Sept 2024):
      • Under €26,000: €5.10 (Under 1 year), €4.35 (1-2 years), etc.
      • €40,000: €3.90, €3.45, etc.
      • €50,000: €3.00, €2.80, etc.

2. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

  • Free Care: Two years for children over 2 years and 8 months, for 3 hours daily.
  • Access Inclusion Model (AIM): Support for around 7,000 children with special needs.

3. Child Payments (2024)

  • Universal Child Benefit: €140.00/month (Under 18).
  • Welfare Child Payment: €46.00/month (Under 12), €54.00/month (12 and over).
  • Back to School: €260.00 (Under 12), €385.00 (12 and over).
  • Foster Care Allowances: Increased to €400 (under 12), €425 (12 and over).

4. Maternity and Parental Benefits

  • Maternity Leave: 26 weeks (24 for adoption), plus 16 weeks unpaid.
  • Paternity Benefit: 2 weeks in the first six months after birth/adoption.
  • Parental Benefit: 7 weeks in the first two years, 9 weeks for post-Aug 2024 births.

5. Working Family Payment (2024 Thresholds)

  • Payment Calculation: 60c for each €1 below income thresholds.
  • Income Thresholds: €645 (one child), plus additional amounts for more children.

6. Support for Caring at Home

  • Tax Credits: For children with incapacity or a dependent relative.
  • Home Care Tax Relief: Up to €75,000 for employing a home carer.
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance: €340/month for children with severe disabilities, plus a Medical Card.

7. Carer’s Allowance

  • Weekly Allowance: €248 (€286 if over 66), means-tested.
  • Carer’s Benefit: For short-term absences, up to 24 months.
  • Carer’s Support Grant: €1850 for those on Carer’s Allowance or Domiciliary Care Allowance.
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Increasing Opportunity

1. Workplace Reforms and Opportunities

  • Employer Funded Sick Pay Scheme: 70% of pay covered, up to €110 per day, for 5 days in 2024, extending to 10 days later.
  • Minimum Wage Increase: Increased by 12% to €12.70 per hour from 1st January, aiming for a living wage of 60% of median income.
  • Apprenticeship Hub: Access to 80 apprenticeships across sectors, €2000 grant per year for new apprentices, plus €2661 bursary for women in male-dominated trades (and vice versa).

2. Education and Skill Development

  • Third Level Grant (SUSI): Grants for PLC Diploma and Undergraduate Degree courses, means-tested, available to part-time and online students from September 2024.
  • Income Limits for Grants (From Sept 2024):
    • Special Rate Maintenance (€3230) and Student Contribution (€3000) for incomes up to €25,000.
    • Standard Maintenance (€1774) and Student Contribution (€3000) for incomes up to €40,875.
    • 33% maintenance and Student Contribution (€3000) for incomes up to €50,840.
    • Other tiers up to €100,000 with varying support.
  • Postgraduates: Special Rate recipients get grants for fees and maintenance.
  • Upskilling/Conversion Programs: 14,000 places annually, 90% subsidized for certain categories.
  • Income Tax Credit: 20% tax credit on tuition fees and student contributions up to €7000 per course.

3. Work and Social Welfare Related Opportunities

  • Back to Education Allowance: For full-time courses after 3-9 months on social welfare.
  • Training Support Grant: Up to €1000 for short courses.
  • Work Placement Programme: Six months at National Minimum Wage.
  • Jobsplus: Subsidy of €7500 – €10000 for employers hiring individuals from social welfare for 4-12 months, depending on the hiree’s age group.

Pensions and Social Welfare

1. Social Welfare Rates (2024)

  • General Social Welfare Rates:
    • Personal: €232.00
    • Adult Dependant: €154.00
  • For Individuals Aged 66 or Over:
    • Personal: €277.30
    • Adult Dependant: €248.60
  • Invalidity/Widowed:
    • Personal: €237.50
    • Adult Dependant: €169.70
  • Assistance (Based on Means Test):
    • Personal: €232.00
    • Adult Dependant: €154.00
  • Additional Payments for Pensioners:
    • Living alone (aged 66 or over): €266.00
    • Aged 80 or over: €22.00 (personal) and €10.00 (adult dependant)

2. Social Welfare Reforms

  • State Pension Age: Remains at 66. From 2024, the option to work up to 70 for a 5% pension increase per extra year.
  • Pension Qualification Reform (2025): Based on total life contributions, credits for up to 20 years of caring duties.
  • Carers Pension (2024): For those with over 20 years as a carer, paid stamps can fill insurance record gaps.
  • Auto-enrolment Pension (2024): For employees aged 23-60, not in an occupational pension, earning over €20,000. Contributions start at 1.5% and rise to 6% by year 10, matched by the State adding €1 for every €3 saved.
  • Pay-Related Jobseekers Benefit (2024): A top-up to the basic rate based on previous earnings, with a ceiling to be decided.
  • Treatment Benefit: Covers insured individuals and their spouses for free dental exams and contributes €42 towards a scale and polish.

Taxation

1. Income Tax Rates for 2024

  • 20% on income up to €42,000 for single individuals.
  • 40% on the remaining income.

2. Universal Social Charge (USC)

  • 0.5% on income up to €12,012.
  • 2.0% on income up to €13,747.
  • 4.0% on income up to €44,283.
  • 8.0% on the balance.
  • From October 2024, a 4.1% USC rate applies to all income up to age 66.

3. Exemptions and Thresholds

  • For those over 65, the USC income threshold is €18,000 (single) and €36,000 (couple).
  • Room Rental exemption: €14,000.
  • Childcare in Home exemption: €15,000.
  • Pension Contributions: Age-related, allowing 15% -40 % on income up to €115,000.

4. General Tax Reliefs and Special Reliefs

  • Personal Tax Credits:
    • Single: €1,875.
    • Married: €3,750.
    • Widowed: €1,875.
    • Caring for Child Alone: €2,415.
    • PAYE Payer/Self-Employed: €1,875.
    • Aged 65 and over: €245 (each).
    • Home Carer (Not working outside home): €1,800.
  • Special Reliefs:
    • Tax credit for private rent: €750 (single), €1,500 (couple).
    • Mortgage interest relief: 20% on the increased interest paid in 2023 compared to 2022.
    • Landlord Relief: 20% tax relief on a portion of rental income, increasing annually to €5,000 by 2027, with conditions.
    • Health Care Expenses: 20% tax credit for unreimbursed expenses recommended by a registered professional.
    • Insurance for long-term care and non-routine dental costs: 20% tax credit.
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Cost of Living

1. Bonus Weeks for Social Welfare Recipients (January 2024)

  • Additional bonus week for all long-term social welfare recipients, including Illness and Jobseeker benefits (for those over 12 months).

2. One-Off Bonus Payments (Before Christmas 2023)

  • €400 for Working Family Payment recipients.
  • €300 for Fuel Allowance recipients.
  • €200 for Living Alone Allowance recipients.
  • €400 for Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, or Blind Pension recipients.
  • €140 in Child Benefits per child, plus an extra €100 for each qualified child on a welfare payment.
  • €1000 off Student Payments for all undergraduates and postgraduates.

3. Electricity Credits

  • The total is €450, distributed over three instalments, with the first instalment before Christmas.
  • Lower VAT on energy products extended to 1st November 2024.
  • Motor fuel price increases are deferred during the winter.

4. Education and Childcare Initiatives

  • Free School Books for all Primary School children, expanding to Junior Cycle pupils from September 2024.
  • Significant increases in universal support for Childcare.

5. Household Benefits Package

  • For individuals aged 70 or over, qualification for free schemes regardless of income.
  • For those aged 66 or over or permanently incapacitated, qualification is possible under certain conditions.

6. Fuel Allowance

  • €33.00/week for 28 weeks for those on long-term Social Welfare with certain income conditions.
  • Savings disregard increased from €20,000 to €50,000.
  • Special qualification criteria for those aged 70 or over.
  • Recipients of Fuel and Living Alone Allowances get a Telephone Allowance of €2.50 per week.

7. Exceptional Needs Support

  • Community Welfare Officers provide assistance for the essential needs of low-income individuals, with an option for appeals.

8. Free Travel Extension

  • From July 2024, it extended to anyone certified as medically unfit to drive.

These measures represent a broad range of support for various segments of the population, including the elderly, low-income families, students, and people with disabilities in Ireland.

Housing

1. Affordable Purchase Homes

  • Scheme Overview: New affordable homes by Councils, AHB, or LDA, with up to 40% equity retained by the Council.
  • Eligibility: First-time buyers and previous owners with specific housing needs.
  • Financing: Mortgage required at four times household income, funding 60% of the total price. No charge on the equity share until redemption.
  • Allocation Criteria: Based on family size, application order, mortgage approval, and local applicant quota.

2. First Homes

  • Scheme Overview: Shared equity scheme for purchasing new private homes or self-builds, with up to 30% equity by First Homes.
  • Market Value Cap: €375,000 for homes (€450,000 for apartments) in Limerick.
  • Equity Repayment: No interest for the first five years, then escalating rates. Repayment is required upon home sale.

3. Help to Buy

  • Scheme Overview: Refund of income and dirt tax paid in the past four years, up to €30,000 or 10% of the home’s value.
  • Conditions: No means test, price cap at €500,000, mortgages must be at least 70% of the home’s value.

4. Local Authority Home Loan

  • Eligibility: Single earners up to €70,000 and couples up to €85,000, targeting first-time buyers and separated persons.
  • Loan Details: Up to 90% financing for homes costing up to €300,000. Interest rate of 4.23% on a 30-year loan.

5. Cost Rental

  • Scheme Overview: Long-term tenancies with rents at least 25% below market rates.
  • Eligibility: Household net income is no more than €59,000, with the size matching the home.
  • Tenancy Terms: Initial 6-year agreement, with renewal options.

6. Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)

  • Eligibility: For those needing housing with household income not exceeding €35,000 in Limerick, plus allowances for children and adults.
  • Rent Payment: The Council pays rent to landlords within a specified ceiling, adjustable by up to 35%.

Health

1. Primary Medical Cover

  • Medical Card: Offers most health services free of charge.
  • GP Visit Card: Covers doctor visit costs.
  • Means Test: Based on net income after specific deductions. Savings thresholds are €36,000 (singles) and €72,000 (couples).
  • Income Guidelines for 2024 (Provisional):
    • Single Living Alone: Varies by age and income.
    • Single Living with Family: Different thresholds based on age.
    • Married/Cohabiting Couple or Single Parent: Income limits vary by age.
  • Dependant Children Allowance: Different rates for Medical Card and GP Card, varying by the number of children and education status.

2. General Health Services

  • Persons aged 70+: Free GP services without means test; Medical Card eligibility based on income.
  • Children under 8: Qualify for GP Card regardless of parents’ income.
  • Prescription Charges: Varied charges for Medical Card holders; reduced for those aged 70+.
  • Drug Refund: For prescribed drug costs exceeding €80/month.

3. Hospital Services

  • General Hospital Entitlements: Access to public in-patient and outpatient services for all.
  • National Treatment Purchase Fund: Alternative procedures for those on public waiting lists.

4. Treatment Abroad

  • HSE Coverage: Costs covered in other EU countries, the UK, and Switzerland, with prior approval.
  • Direct Referral: Reimbursement for treatment in the EU or Northern Ireland.

5. Casualty and Outpatient Charges

  • Public patients pay €100 unless referred by a doctor or admitted to a hospital.

6. Nursing Home Support

  • “Fair Deal” Scheme: Means-tested support for long-term residential care.
  • Financial Contributions: Involves a percentage of rent, other income, and asset value, subject to thresholds and conditions.

As 2024 unfolds, Ireland is witnessing a significant transformation in its financial and social support structures. These updates demonstrate a dynamic and responsive approach tailored to meet the evolving needs of its citizens.

For families, businesses, and individuals, comprehending these changes is essential for effectively navigating the shifting financial landscape. While this publication has been meticulously prepared, it is important to note that it is written in broad terms, offering general guidance. It is not intended to cover every specific situation. Therefore, actions or decisions should not be based solely on the information provided here. Instead, obtaining specific professional advice is highly recommended to address individual circumstances.

Remember, staying informed and seeking expert counsel are key steps in adapting to these changes and maximising their opportunities.