Budget 2014 to be unveiled today

The Cabinet is to meet later today to discuss the Budget for a final time before details are made public.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan will deliver the taxation measures in the Dáil at 2.30pm, followed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, who will outline the spending cuts.

The Budget will contain €2.5 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases.

Four departments – Social Protection, Health, Education and Justice – are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts.

It is understood that Mr Noonan will go through the taxation measures as a whole package for the first time with his Cabinet colleagues during the meeting at noon.

Particular attention will be paid to the VAT rate for the hospitality sector.

It has been confirmed that free GP care is to be introduced from 2014 for children under five years old.

Other possible measures include changes to the eligibility criteria for medical cards for the over 70s and the ending of the telephone package for older people. 

It is also speculated that measures include reductions in unemployment benefits for new claimants who are under 26 years of age, the introduction of a bank levy and an increase in DIRT tax, which is levied on savings.

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes has said the budget would benefit the “coping classes” – who pay the most in tax without seeing anything in return.