Budget 2019 shows healthcare and childcare are key priorities for Government, Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has said.

Deputy Carey said the Budget contains a range of new fair and sustainable measures to care for the most vulnerable in our communities and make life easier for families in Clare.

“This year, Fine Gael will invest an additional €1.2 billion in health, facilitating a range of additional services including initiatives proposed under Sláintecare. These include a €25 increase in the weekly income threshold for GP Visit cards; a 50 cent reduction in prescription charges from €2.00 to €1.50 for all medical card holders over the age of 70; and a €10 reduction in the monthly Drugs Payment Scheme threshold from €134 to €124.

“An additional €84 million will be provided for Mental Health Services bringing the total available funding for Mental Health to €1 billion, an increase of 9 per cent. We are also providing €150 million more for disability services next year to bring total funding in this area to almost €2 billion.

Deputy Carey continued: “In delivering a caring and responsible Budget for a modern Ireland, we have also increased funding for childcare. €574 million will be invested in the childcare and early learning sector, a boost of €90 million.

“More Clare families are set to benefit from the Affordable Childcare scheme as we will increase the income thresholds next year. The base income threshold is being raised from €22,700 to €26,000; the maximum income threshold will go from €47,500 to €60,000; and the multiple child deduction will increase from €3,800 to €4,300.

“This scheme makes a real difference to the lives of thousands of families here in Clare not only in terms of accessing childcare but also in terms of encouraging people back into th,e workplace. The Budget will also see the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme in November 2019 to provide two extra weeks’ leave to every parent of a child in their first year.

“It is intended to increase this to seven extra weeks over time,” Deputy Carey explained.