This budget is rightly focussed on planning for the potential of a no-deal Brexit which presents an enormous challenge to our country.  In the event of a no deal Brexit the Government will implement contingency expenditure to protect the economy.  There would be a total of €650 million put in place in the event of an no deal Brexit to help the agriculture, enterprise and tourism sectors in particular.

I am concerned however about the impact of the further stamp duty increase on land purchases by 1.5% to 7.5%. The margins in farming are so tight that anything which increases the price of land is very negative. We should not be penalising active genuine farmers who are trying to build a farm business. These people are the future.  While there are the young trained farmer and consanguinity reliefs, many people are unable to benefit from them.

It is positive that one million additional home help hours will be provided next year. I receive many calls from individuals and their family members across Roscommon and Galway on a weekly basis in relation to this issue and others who have been approved for Home Help and on a waiting list for this service to commence.  I have discussed this issue at length with Minister for Health, Simon Harris and sought an increased allocation of home help support hours and home care packages. Given my own healthcare background, I am well aware of the positive impact that that home help staff provide to individuals in their homes on a daily basis.  It is not acceptable that people who have specific needs in terms of domestic tasks and personal care are not receiving the appropriate support.

A further 1,000 Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech & Language Therapists, Community Nurses and other community Healthcare staff which will assist people to stay in their homes for the longest time possible.  In particular, these appointments are necessary in order to support children and young people with disabilities who are currently on long waiting lists for assessment and intervention.

I am a member of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on advocating for supports for people with dementia and their families.  It is positive that dementia advisors will be recruited to assist individuals and families cope with this diagnosis and live as independently as possible.

 

I have discussed at length with Minister Jim Daly and Minister Paschal Donohue for an increase in Fair Deal funding.  I have been working with a number of individuals and their families who had received approval in principle for the Fair Deal scheme but had to wait a significant number of weeks in order for funding to be processed. It is important that additional €45 million has been allocated in this budget surpassing €1 billion for the first time.

 

I have discussed at length with Minister Richard Bruton over the past number of months the urgent need for supports to be put in place for Bord na Mona and the local communities affected. A fund of €31 million is to be put in place which will include €6 million in the Just Transition Fund targeted at the Midlands.  This funding will support retraining and reskilling workers and local communities and businesses in the midlands.  €5 million will be put in place for bog restoration and rehabilitation which will restore bogs to their natural habitat and become sinks that absorb carbon. This programme will support the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to restore 1,800 hectares of bog in 7 counties, resulting in 28m tonnes of carbon stored over the next 5 years. It is planned this will create 70 jobs in year one rising to 100 as the programme develops.  €20 million will be allocated to deliver a new model to group housing upgrades together as set out in the Climate Action Plan. This work will be targeted at the Midlands, this will support an estimated 400 jobs directly and indirectly, as well as significantly upgrading the social stock in the region during 2020.