Budget 2018: The key points

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has been revealing details of Budget 2018 in the Dáil this lunchtime.

Some €1.2 billion in new spending and tax cut was announced this afternoon, in a plan that Minister Donohoe hopes will build on the progress made over the past few years.

According to Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, there will "no big bonanza" and "no fireworks" in Budget 2018, however he insisted that it will be a "good budget overall".

The 2.5% rate of USC will reduce to 2%, and the ceiling for this new rate will increase from €18,772 to €19,372. The relief for people with loans from 2004-2012 is being continued to 2020 but at just 75% the rate in 2018, 50% in 2019 and 25% in 2020.

Cigarettes and sugary drinks will become more expensive while on the expenditure side, more measures to stimulate house building have been introduced.

The Department of Health will get an increase in funding of €685 million, bringing their total budget to €15.3 billion.

An additional 1,800 staff in frontline services across acute, mental health, disability, primary and community care sectors.

The student teacher ration is to be reduced to 26:1.

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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 Housing Assistance Payment Scheme will increase to €149m.

There will be a reduction in prescription charges for medical card holders under the age of 70 from €2.50 to €2 per item.

An additional 500 civilians are also to be hired into the force.

For workers, 2 USC rates have been lowered and income tax bands have been raised.

The lower 9% Value-Added Tax rate on tourism & services sector WILL NOT change. There's a €2 per week rise in the rate of the qualified child payment. Entry point to USC will remain at €13,000.

The 5% rate of USC, meanwhile, will reduce from 5% to 4.75%.

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