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Hopes that Carlow & Kilkenny county councils get some assistance in Budget 2021

Measures are due to be announced at lunchtime today

People on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be paid the social welfare Christmas bonus if they’ve spent at least four months on the income support.

The measure was one of the last agreed last night during final negotiations on Budget 2021, which will be announced at 1pm.

The largest budget in the history of the state will focus on COVID, Brexit, housing and getting people back to work.

One of the last measures agreed was to give some 400,000 social welfare recipients a Christmas bonus at a cost of 350 million euro, as long as they’ve been on the payment for a total of 4 months this year.

Health is to get an extra four billion euro to spend between Covid and other healthcare including extra beds and ICU capacity.

There will be a multi-billion euro fund including targeted supports for businesses that have been forced to shut because of Covid and the live entertainment industry.

At least 500 million euro will be given to the Department of Housing which will tell local authorities to directly build social housing.

There will be money for affordable housing and the help-to-buy scheme is being retained at the higher €30,000 rate.

Carbon taxes are going up by 7.50 a tonne which will mean it will cost 1.47 extra to fill a tank of diesel and 1.28 for a tank of petrol.

A bag of coal will cost 90c more and a bale of briquettes 20c more.

Motor tax and VRT are also set to rise for high polluting vehicles.

The cost of a pack of cigarettes will go up 50c but alcohol is expected to be left alone.

Income tax rates are also not going to change under the first budget of this coalition government.

Carlow County Council …

Carlow County Council is hoping for at least an extra two million Euro from the government in today’s budget.

The local authority’s facing a budget deficit of almost five million Euro – in Kilkenny that figure is eight million euro.

Carlow Cllr Will Patton says the amount of extra support that’s announced today will be hugely important but the council’s still facing massive cutbacks noting “There has been no increase in the local government fund for Carlow County Council in over a decade, that’s something that has to be addressed, but look we’re very hopeful that government might come forward with an extra two million but that still leaves us with 2.8 million of a deficit and that is going to have to be addressed, it’s not something we can run away from, the responsible thing for elected members is to get involved and put our thoughts in so that we come up with some sort of balanced solution that the elected members and the public can live with.”

He adds that the massive cuts that are expected to be needed can’t be decided behind closed doors with only a few councillors saying “I want it widened out and I think that the meeting today bequeaths that there would be a special workshop where members would sit down with the Chief Executiv,e because at the end of the day we bear a responsbility for a drop in the budget and it’s important that we know precisely where the cuts are being made and why those cuts are being made, now I suppose we have to be a bit optimisitic and we have to see in terms of what the government will give”.