Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe took to the Dáil on Tuesday October 10 outlining the details of the 2024 budget. The annual budget covers all bases of everyday life including tax cuts, family and children related issues, welfare recipients and pensioners, mortgage holders, rent and even the price of pints and electric cigarettes.
That said there are certain points which are of significant interest to college students. Firstly, college grants will be increased by €300 and postgrads will be restored for the first time since the economic crash in 2008. In a significant change, beginning September 2024 student attribution fees will be abolished for households with an income below €55,924. This will give many more students from lower-income backgrounds the opportunity to attend university.
Rental tax credit will rise from €500 to €750. Parents who pay from their child living in full time accommodation, those renting a room in a house, will also be able to claim this credit and this will even be backdated to allow for credits in 2022 and 2023.
The national minimum wage will see an increase of €1.40 as it rises from €11.30 to €12.70.
The 20% cut to public transport fares for adults has been extended for another year. The qualifying age for half price fares on public transport will now include 24 and 25 years olds. When added to 20% fare cut for adults it means a 60% fare reduction for all people aged 19 to 25. This is a major win for many of the students at NUIG commuting in and out each day.
Three €150 payments set for energy credits and mortgage income relief. This is to be paid between the end of this year and April of next year. As well as this, the lower rate of 9% of VAT on energy products will continue for the next 12 months.
Although there are many positives and benefits in the 2024 budget, local TDs have pointed out some discrepancies.
Catherine Connolly, Independent for Galway West, stood in the Dáil and gave her response to the promises made in the budget. She made note of the absence of funds allocated for tackling the climate crisis staying, “since then [when she was first elected in 2016] we have declared a climate emergency and a biodiversity emergency and we have a serious volatile geo-political situation.”
As well as that Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell, Galway West and South Mayo, took to social media to voice her concerns over the lack of solutions to the housing crisis in the budget; “Disappointing that the €1,000 reduction in student contribution charge or fees by any other name is a once off. Sinn Féin would cut them fully by 1,000 and abolish them in 3 years. Not a mention of student accommodation either.”
It is clear that the government still has some work to do in order to create an annual budget that improves all quality of life in all areas.