Burke says Budget means Westmeath ready to meet 'No Deal' Brexit head on

Budget 2020 ensures we protect our future in the challenge of a No Deal Brexit – Peter Burke

€1.2bn package to respond to Brexit challenges

Fine Gael’s responsible financial planning for the future means we will meet the challenge of a No Deal Brexit from a position of strength, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Peter Burke said that while a No Deal is not inevitable nor wanted by anyone, Budget 2020, announced this week, means Westmeath will stand ready to meet it head on.

“In preparing for No Deal, we can ensure that the Government has the necessary resources at its disposal to meet the impact of Brexit, while keeping our public finances on the credible and sustainable path they have been on since 2011.

“Fine Gael has returned the country to a position where 2.3m people are working and more opportunities are being created every day. We are planning for whatever may come with Brexit, so we can help the people and businesses in Westmeath most affected, if and when they need it. Budget 2020 allocates an extra €1 billion to protect us from the worst of No Deal, on top of existing grants and loans for business, agriculture and tourism.

“Minister Paschal Donohoe has announced he is making €200m in Brexit expenditure available next year. This will be allocated across a number of departments and agencies to increase the level of staffing, upgrade infrastructure at our ports and airports and invest in Information Technology (IT) and facilities management and will ensure we are ready for Brexit, whatever form it takes.”

Deputy Burke continued: “If a No Deal happens, we will intervene to further protect our economy.

“Some €650 million will be made available to support the Agriculture, Enterprise and Tourism sectors and to assist the most affected citizens and regions. Of this, €220 million will be deployed immediately in the event of a No Deal.

“From this, €110 million for enterprises has been identified for the first wave of funding for targeted new interventions to help vulnerable but viable firms adjust to a No Deal Brexit.

“€110m will be provided through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Vote in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

“The provision of immediate supports for our beef sector will be a first priority, as will support for our fishing fleet.

“The sequencing and deployment of the balance of €390 million of Brexit contingency expenditure will be determined closer to the time. This funding will assist our farms, our businesses and our citizens should no deal happen.

“Alongside this, €365 million will also be provided for extra Social Protection expenditure on the Live Register and related schemes with a further €45 million being made available to assist people to new employment opportunities. If required, this Government stands ready to do more.”

The Chartered Accountant concluded: “As we prepare for Brexit, I can confirm that our economy is in a strong position.

“After a long and difficult journey, balance was finally restored to the public finances last year.

Despite many challenges, our economic growth is broadly based. It is imperative to boost the resilience of the Irish economy in order to minimise, in so far as is possible, any future disruption. The Budget we are announcing today is designed to protect recent progress in our economy.

Social welfare

I am also happy to see increases for social welfare recipients who need it most. There has been a €5 increase in living alone allowance and an increase in qualified child payments by €3 for over-12s and €2 for under 12s. Fuel allowance will increase by €2 per week to offset the increase in Carbon Tax and there will be a 100% Christmas bonus to pensioners and all social welfare recipients in 2019.

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