Hot School Meals, Fuel Allowance and more
The Government is highly aware of the effect that high energy prices and the cost of living are having on families, businesses and the most vulnerable.
In recognition of these ongoing challenges the Government has today agreed a new €1.2 billion package of measures to put money back into people’s pockets, help with the bills, and ensure there is no cliff-edge for the temporary measures already in place.
The increased costs we are currently experiencing are felt across the whole of society but we know that some feel the impact more than others. This Government is continuing to buffer this impact for the most vulnerable including lone parents, the elderly and carers. What I remain most proud of is not the temporary measures, as crucial as they are, but the more permanent quality of life measures we are introducing.
Today’s announcement will see the Hot School Meals programme extended to all DEIS primary schools from September, benefiting 64,500 children. In Laois Offaly 40 DEIS school will benefit under the new scheme by September. In Laois there are 15 DEIS primary schools with a further 25 in Offaly and by September all of these pupils will benefit under the scheme. And preparations are starting for the Hot School Meals programme to be extended to non-DEIS primary schools.
In my constituency of Laois and Offaly I am particularly struck by the impact of changes to the eligibility criteria for the fuel allowance for the elderly. People who previous didn’t qualify are now receiving this important allowance.
A €470 million package of measures to help social protection recipients from April to July, for: families with children, lone parents, low-income families, carers, those on disability payments, older persons living alone and pensioner.
The measures include a lump sum child benefit payment of €100 per child to be paid in June, and a €200 lump sum to be paid in April to all long-term social welfare recipients.
In July there will be a one-off increase of €100 in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance, and the State Examination fees for students sitting the Junior and Leaving certificate this year will be waived.
The Hot School Meals programme will be extended to all DEIS primary schools from September, benefiting 64,500 children.
Start preparations for the Hot School Meals programme to be extended to non-DEIS primary schools.
Reduced charges will apply to school transport of €50 per pupil at primary level, €75 per pupil at post-primary level, with a cap per family of €125.
The temporary reductions in VAT on gas and electricity, from 13.5% to 9%, will be extended to 31 October 2023 at an estimated cost of €115 million.
The temporary reduction in VAT on Tourism and Hospitality, from 13.5% to 9%, will be extended to 31 August 2023 at an estimated cost of €300 million.
A phased restoration of the rates of excise on petrol, diesel and marked gas oil will take place in three stages over the coming eight months. This will see rates restored on 1 June by 6 cent per litre of petrol, 5 cent per litre of diesel and 1 cent per litre of marked gas oil. On 1 September these rates will increase by a further 7 cent for petrol, 5 cent diesel, 1 cent for marked gas.
Rates will then be fully restored on 31 October with a final increase of 8 cent for petrol, 6 cent for diesel, and 3 cent for market gas oil. The extension, and phased reintroduction, of these excise reductions is estimated to cost €383 million.
The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme will be extended, to 31 May 2023, and enhanced, including by reducing the threshold for qualification from a 50% increase in electricity or gas costs to 30% increase (to apply retrospectively from 1 September last year), and by increasing from 1 March the level of relief from 40% to 50% of eligible costs, subject to a monthly limit, which will also be increased from March, to €15,000 per month per trade or profession, subject to an overall cap of €45,000 where the business is carried on from more than one location. These changes are subject to state aid approval from the European Commission. The cost of the extend scheme will be met from the allocation provided in Budget 2023.
There will also be a new grant for businesses using LPG or kerosene.