The first thing of substantial note for Carers is the Respite Care Grant which has now been restored to pre-recession levels. From €1,375 back to €1,700. This is a welcome reversal of policy and will make a difference to all families who rely heavily on this tax free payment.
The government has also increased the Home Carers Credit from €810 to €1,000 which will benefit lots of Carers who are married and one of the parents is a stay-at-home parent. The criteria is that, you must be in receipt of Child Benefit, and that one parent does not earn over €6,700 per year, Carer Allowance is ignored in this calculation.
All working families will see more take home pay in 2016 due to the reduction in Universal Social Charge (USC) and an increase in the entry point and bands. This is a welcome relief and parents who are self-employed with also see an additional tax credit of €550.
Child benefit has gone back up by €5 per month up to €140 per child. On top of this there is now an additional year of free childcare for children aged 3 to 5 ½ years or until they start school. Added to this is €15 million to support the scheme for children with disabilities to access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme. The Budget also promises 600 new resource teachers and an expansion of Child Speech & Language Therapy within primary care.
The Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) threshold for Group A has increased from €225,000 to €280,000 with effect from 1 January 2016. This means more can be transferred from parents to their children before any tax implications. This has significant implications for all parents who are planning for their children’s future.
Valuations on Local Property Tax (LPT) will remain in force until 2019. The two different types of LPT relief remain. First relief is a reduction in the chargeable value of a property to the original value of the home before adaptation occurred to assist a person with a disability. The second is a full exemption because your home was bought, constructed or fully renovated because your child’s special needs.
The most significant change I see for my parents is the extension of Free GP Cards to all children under 12. This is a significant benefit to parents who have children with high medical needs. It allows all children free doctor visits until they turn 12 and remember when your child with additional needs turns 16 they will then be entitled to their own medical card. Medical Card, Family GP Cards, Long Term Illness Card and Drug Payment scheme have remained unchanged.