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13th Oct 2020

Budget 2021 – A brief guide to what you need to know

Alan Loughnane

A quick guide to some of the main talking points.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has delivered his Budget for 2021 to the Dáil.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, Donohoe said the Government had maintained a “clear strategy” to respond to the risks facing it today:

  • Firstly: rapidly building up healthcare capacity;
  • Secondly: protecting household incomes;
  • Thirdly: supporting employment.

He said the main threats facing the country were the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, while also stating the 2021 budget was worth an “unprecedented” €17 billion.

It wouldn’t be a national speech these days without a famous quote and Donohoe duly obliged with a Heaney classic, saying: “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.”

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath also provided his budget to the Dáil.

Here’s a look at some of the main points.


  • Excise on a pack of 20 cigarettes raised by 50c.
  • Pro-rata increase on tobacco products.


  • No change on price of alcohol.


  • An extra €4 billion has been committed for the health service.
  • €38 million is being allocated for mental health services.
  • Over €1 billion will be allocated to the health budget for testing and tracing for Covid-19 as well as additional PPE.
  • An additional 1,146 acute beds.
  • An increase in permanent adult critical care beds from 255 pre-Covid to 321 by end 2021.
  • The Carer’s Support Grant will be increased by €150 to €1,850 per year.


  • The help to buy scheme will be extended until the end of 2021.
  • 12,750 additional build, acquisition and leased units will be added to social housing stock.

Remote working

  • The allowance for working from home remains at €3.20 per day, but those who don’t get paid it can now include the cost of broadband in their applications for rebates on other costs.


  • From midnight, an increase in carbon tax by €7.50 per tonne means the price of diesel and petrol will rise by around 2.5c and 2c respectively.
  • Corporation tax will remain the same at 12.5%.
  • The second USC rate band will be increased to €20,687.
  • There will be a slight change to the structure of motor tax.
  • There will be no large changes to income tax bands or tax credits.

Social Welfare

  • The Fuel Allowance is increasing by €3.50 per week to €28.
  • The Living Alone Allowance will be increased by €5 to €19.
  • For self-employed recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, an earnings disregard will be introduced to allow them to take up intermittent work without losing their benefit.


  • An additional allocation of €120 million for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
  • These include
    – An additional €61 million for Tusla;
    – €25 million for International Protection Seekers Accommodation;
    – €5 million for Youth Services and Organisations; and
    – A further €30 million for the delivery of other services within the Department.


  • The 2021 allocation for the Department of Education is €8.9 billion.
  • 300 more mainstream teaching posts at primary level.