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Budget 2018 provides highest ever spending on health and education

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Paschal Donohoe the finance minister was in budget negotiations with his Fianna Fáil counterparts yesterday

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe has delivered his Budget speech in the Dáil, setting out the governments' budgetary measures for the year ahead.

There will be a 50c rise in the excise on a packet of cigarettes which will mean the price of 20 will top €12 for the first time.

However Donohoe also announced a €200 increase in the Earned Income Credit which will benefit 147,000 self-employed people in Ireland.

A 30c per litre sugar tax on drinks with over 8g of sugar per 100ml, and a 20c per litre tax on drinks containing 5g to 8g of sugar per 100ml.

The idea has been floated in recent years by Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan.

The VAT rate on tourism & services sector WILL NOT change.

There will be a €5 euro per week increase in social welfare payments as well as a €5 increase to the pension from March next year. This year, social welfare recipients can look forward to a Christmas bonus of 85%, the Minister has announced.

Health spending will be almost €15.3 billion next year, an increase of 5%, making it the biggest health budget in Irish history.

There'll be a 0% benefit in kind on electric vehicles.

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Meanwhile the cutoff point for higher tax band is being raised by €750 to €34,550 for single workers.

The USC has an entry point of €13,000.

The 5% rate of Universal Social Charge will drop from 5% of income to 4.75%.

-€1.83 billion will be allocated for housing in 2018.

He added that funding for Homeless Services will be increased by a further €180m to over €116m to ensure that emergency accommodation and other supports are available.

Forty new staff will be hired in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and enterprise agencies to meet what Mr Donohoe said were "challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit".

He has also declared war on vacant site owners, with the levy on this doubling from 3% to 7% by 2020.

Health expenditure to increase by €685m, bringing next year's total to just under €15.3bn.

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