BEWARE!! GHOSTS OF BUDGETS PAST — Austerity measures in Ireland 2009–2016

Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan impose more austerity on the hard-pressed public

This election is a time to remember… and so it begins. The election sales pitches where you’re promised the earth, moon and stars by political parties of all hues. Most of which will be broken post-election to the sound of at least 80 shoulder shrugs in Leinster House. As Pat Rabbitte said in reference to making promises and breaking them, “but isn’t that what you tend to do during an election”. So now’s our chance to remember policy decisions and hold all politicians accountable. If we don’t hold them accountable, they’ll think you’re OK with it and do it all over again.

Since 2008 successive Irish government’s have protected bankers, bondholders, speculators and developers at all costs. In doing so, they have issued the following Budgets.

Fianna Fail and Green Party Government

Eamon Ryan, Green Party & Micheál Martin, Fianna Fail who supported Budget’s 2009, 2010, Emergency Budget 2010 & 2011


• Medical cards means tested.

• Income levy of 1% introduced on income up to €100,000 with 2% on higher.

• €10 travel tax.

• 20% hike in hospital bed charges.

• 50c hike in packet of cigarettes.

• VAT increased by 0.5%.

• DIRT increased by 3% to 23%.

• Excise Duty on cigarettes increased by 50c.

• Excise Duty on wine increased by 50c.

• Petrol increased by 8c.

• Betting tax doubled to 2%.

• Motor tax increased by between 4% and 5%.

• Automatic entitlement to the medical card for over 70’s abolished.

• €200 levy on employer-provided parking spaces in urban centres.

• 41 state agencies to be abolished, amalgamated or privatised.

• Stamp duty on ATM cards halved, paid for by an increase in stamp duty on cheques.

• Cervical cancer vaccine withdrawal.


• Income levies doubled to 2% and 4%.

• PRSI ceiling increased.

• Social Welfare Christmas Bonus abolished.

• Jobseeker’s allowance reduced, under 20s cut to €100 per week.

• New 1% levy on life assurance premiums.

• Capital gains tax — up from 22% to 25%.

• Early Childcare Supplement to be halved to €500 and scrapped in 2010.

• Mortgage interest relief cut to only first seven years.

• Health levy doubled to 4% and 5% — entry point for the higher rate reduced to €1,443 per year.

• Excise duty on cigarettes up 25c.

• Excise duty on diesel up by 5c per litre.

• Children’s allowance to be means tested or taxed.

• Rent supplement halved to reflect a fall in rental prices.

• Capital expenditure in education cut by €54m.

• Higher education budget down by €24m.

• €2m saved through delays in recruiting additional educational psychologists.

• Another €2m ‘saved’ by lowering the level of awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

• Strategic Innovation Fund cut by 50% to €2m.

• Overall education cuts of €134m.

• Department of Transport budget cut by €300m.

• NAMA established.


• Jobseekers allowance for those under 21 cut to €100.

• VAT rate cut by 0.5%

• 5%-10% pay cut for public sector workers.

• Carbon tax introduced.

• Ministers take a 15% pay cut; Taoiseach takes 20% pay cut.

• Diesel up 4.9c and petrol up 4.2c.

• Minimum wage cut by €1 per hour.

• 4% cut in social welfare payment, excluding old age pension.

• Child benefit decreased by €16 each month, although welfare dependent families remain unchanged.

• Prescription charge levy introduced costing 50c per item.

• Arts budget decreased by 6%.

• €12m cut from sports budget.

• Water charges to be introduced.

• Irish domicile levy introduced.

• Minister forecasts return to positive growth in 6–9 months.


• Charges for private/semi-private beds up 21%.

• €10 cut to child benefit for first & second child.

• €20 cut in child benefit for third child.

• 4c on petrol and 2c on diesel.

• Third-level student charges rise by €500 to €2,000.

• Student grants cut by 4%.

• €8 cut for social welfare, jobseekers payments.

• Air travel tax of €3.

• Public service pensions over €12k cut by 4%.

• Employee PRSI/Health Levy relief gone.

• Income/health levy replaced with universal social charge (USC) at 2% up to €10,036, 4% to €16,016 and 7% above this level.

• Pension contributions subject to PRSI and USC.

• Employee PRSI ceiling removed.

• Increase in PRSI rate for the self-employed, higher earning public servants and office holders.

• 1% tax on residential transactions up to €1m and 2% over €1m.

• All stamp duty exemptions abolished.

• DIRT increased by 2%.

• Online betting to be subject to same betting duty as in bookie shops.

• Carer’s allowance for those under 66 to be cut by €8 to €186 per week.

• Passport fees for over 65’s introduced.

Fine Gael and Labour Party Government

Leo Vardkar and Brendan Howlin supported Budgets 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016, which were all regressive


• VAT increased by 2%.

• €100 household charge introduced.

• Child benefit for 3rd and subsequent child cut.

• Disability allowance for new claimants aged 18–21 cut from €188 to €100 per week.

• Drug payment scheme threshold increased from €120 to €132 — a cut of €12m from the scheme.

• JobBridge introduced.

• Minimum contribution by single tenants towards rent supplement to increase from €6 to €30 per week. Minimum contribution by couples will be €35.

• Winter fuel allowance cut by six weeks — or €120 per year.

• Post graduate students will no longer receive maintenance grants.

• Back to school allowance of €200 abolished for two and three year olds.

• Also, back to school allowance to be cut from €305 to €250 (aged 12 plus) and cut from €200 to €150 (11 and under).

• Cigarettes up 25c

• Carbon tax increased from €15 per tonne to €20 per tonne; meaning

  • Petrol up 1.4c
  • Diesel up 1.6c.

• €17.32 increase on Fuel Oil.

• €14.46 increase on Natural gas.

• Motor tax up €56 to €160 for band A.

• Motor tax up €69 to €225 for band B.

• Motor tax up €28 to €330 for band C.

• Capital Acquisition Tax up from 25% to 30%.

• DIRT up from 27% to 30%.

• Total cuts to school funding of €24m a year.

• School Transport: Primary charge increased from €50 to €100 and the maximum primary family payment increased from €110 to €220.

• Grant of €635 paid at birth on all multiple births and further grants of €635 paid when the children are 4 years of age and 12 years of age will be abolished.

• Abolition of Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative from 2012.

• 1.3% growth forecast.


• Child benefit cut by €10 per month.

• Respite care grant cut by over €300.

• Prescription charge for medical card holders increased from 50c to €1.50 per item.

• Local Property Tax introduced.

• Maternity benefit to be taxed.

• Property tax of 0.18% up to €1m; 0.25% on houses over €1m.

• 10c rise on spirits, beer and cider.

• 10c on a pack of 20 cigarettes.

• €1 increase in a bottle of wine.

• Minimum PRSI level of annual contribution from self-employed will be raised from €253 to €500.

• PRSI-free allowance has abolished meaning a loss of €264 per year for employees.

• Over 70’s with an income of €600 and €700 per week will have their medical card replaced with a GP card.

• Duration of Jobseekers Benefit cut by 3 months.

• Telephone Allowance Scheme reduced.


• Child benefit for fourth and subsequent child cut to €130 from €140.

• Pension levy increased from 0.6% to 0.75%

• Medical cards for unemployed replaced with GP only card on return to work.

• Prescription charges for medical card holders to increase from €1.50 to €2.50.

• Bereavement grant of €850 scrapped.

• Number of days for entitlement to Illness Benefit increased from three to six days.

• Telephone allowance for household benefit recipients to be discontinued.

• Income thresholds for over 70’s on medical cards to be lowered to €900 per week for couples and €500 for a single person.

• Reduced jobseeker’s allowance of €144 to apply to those aged 25.

• €100 Jobseeker’s Allowance to apply to people up to age 24.

• Increase of 50c on 75cl bottle of wine.

• Increase of 10c on pint of beer/cider.

• 10c increase on a pack of cigarettes.

• One Parent Family Tax Credit replaced with Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit, available only to principal carer of the child.

• €25m cut in funding to third level institutions to continue.


• €405m tax cut for top 17% of earners.

• 2% USC rate reduced to 1.5%.

• 4% USC rate reduced to 3.5%.

• 0.6% pension levy abolished.

• Double Irish tax loophole to be abolished and replaced with the Knowledge Development Box with a 6.25% corporation tax rate.

• Cigarettes to increase by 40c.

• Water charges introduced.

• Child benefit to increase by €5 per week.

• Lone Parent’s Allowance cut.

• No changes to class sizes.

• Household Benefits Package to allocate.

€100 payment towards water bill.


• Old age pension to increase by €3 per week.

• Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients restored to 75% of the recipients weekly payment.

• Child benefit to increase by €5 per month.

• Respite care grant restored to previous level.

• Fuel allowance increased by €2.50 per week to €22.50.

• Minimum wage increased by 50c.

… and during all that time — Ireland increased the number of millionaires from 16,000 to 91,000.

Originally published at on February 16, 2016.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store