Mixed reaction to Budget 2017, but Fianna Fáil pledge support

Spending and tax cuts of €1.3bn have been announced

Mixed reaction to Budget 2017, but Fianna Fáil pledge support

Pascal Donohue (left) with Michael Noonan presenting the budget outside Government Buildings | Image: Rollingnews.ie

There has been mixed reaction to measures announced in Budget 2017.

Spending increases and tax cuts of €1.3bn were announced in the Dáil earlier by Minister Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe.

Among some of the main initiatives announced were a new 'help to buy' scheme which will see first time buyers entitled to a 5% grant on newly-built homes, a cut in USC for all workers, and plans for almost 4,500 additional frontline staff to be recruitment.

There will be a 7.4% increase in health spending - to a total of €14.6bn for next year.

And €319m is to go towards spending on local and regional roads, while €15m will be used to progress the National Broadband Plan.

Fianna Fáil's jobs spokesman Dara Calleary said the party did not get everything they wanted that it would support the document.

"There are areas we disagree (with) strongly, but we have a responsibility to this country to provide political stability at a time of great challenge," he said. 

"We have married that mandate of responsibly with a mandate of fairness given to us last February."

There was also €36.5m added to the budget for third level. USI President Annie Hoey said it is a good budget for them.

"The...investment is obviously very welcome, and it's desperately needed so it's a positive step forward.

"And obviously the €5 increase in the Back to Education Allowance is something that we welcome - people on the Back to Education Allowance obviously need that additional bit of support.

"So it's positive to have some good news about the third-level education sector in the budget."

"Impossible to Brexit-proof anything"

President of Macra Na Feirme, Sean Finan, said there were  a number of good measures for farmers.

"Cash flow is an issue on farms and access to low rates of credit is very important, so we would welcome some movement in this area.

"There's also an announcement about income averaging, and again that will help cash flow.

"And it is very important in a tough year where farmers have been affected by weather and other issues - and poor commodity prices as well."

The state pension is to rise by €5 per week from March next year, but Peter Kavanagh from Active Retirement Ireland said this was not as good a budget for older people as it seems.

"Well it looks like that on paper, but the €5 increase in the pension won't be coming through until March - disappointed to have it put on the long finger like that.

"It lowers the effective benefit over the course of the full 12 months to about between 3 and 4 euros.

"But...we're not alone in that - the most vulnerable elements of society will have to wait for that increase; carers, young unemployed people and so on."

And while Mr Noonan outlined a "real risk" to our economy from a Brexit, Ian Talbot of Chambers Ireland said it would be impossible to call this budget Brexit-proof.

"It's a great aspiration, but it's impossible to Brexit-proof anything at the moment," he said.

"We don't know what's going to happen with Brexit - but the important thing is that we didn't do any damage in this budget.

"I don't think we have, it's a very safe budget - and we do have the capability to be flexible and adaptable.

"We may need that."