Each and every one of us can probably remember where we were when the realisation began to dawn that the global pandemic was not like anything we had experienced in living memory.
Overnight, the things we took for granted, the things we value the most, were taken from us. Our instinct and need to interact with each other was the very thing that put us most at risk.
For the past year and a half, we have walked a long road together. We did not know what we would encounter along the way. There have been many dark moments; times when it all seemed hopeless; times of great loss and suffering.
But we kept going, we dug deep, and we have stayed the course.
I want to thank the Irish people for their extraordinary efforts, for their selflessness, and for their solidarity since this terrible disease arrived on our island, stopped us in our tracks, and turned our lives upside down.
Never before in our history have we been so united in response to such a shared threat. We know our journey is not over, and the threat of Covid is very much still with us.
With more than 400 people in hospital today suffering with Covid, our resilience and togetherness continues to be tested, but we now have more hope than at any time since March 2020 because of our hugely successful vaccination programme.
We have truly learned the wisdom of the seanfhocal: Ní neart go cur le chéile.
AN ENDURING LEGACY
The Government believes recognition is needed for the extraordinary efforts of the many people who helped our country get through the past 18 months. I can confirm to the House that we will, following consultation with relevant stakeholders, bring forward proposals in this regard in the coming weeks.
As a nation, we must find a way of remembering those lives that were lost due to Covid, and indeed to acknowledge all those who died during the pandemic, whom we could not mourn in the way we would have liked.
Ultimately, I think we can all agree that the most important legacy of the past year and a half should be to make our country a better and a fairer place to live.
The budget that the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and I are presenting today on behalf of he Government marks a significant step in that direction.
A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
Throughout that time, as we wrestled with the challenge of Covid, we developed a new appreciation of what we value in life: family and friends, community, nature, and the rich diversity our beautiful country has to offer.
We have also deepened our appreciation of the varied and valued roles played by so many across society.
For people right across our country, as we emerge from the pandemic, the priority is quality of life, our health, our home, our environment - things we perhaps at times took for granted, but have now come to value even more.
For Government, our priorities will be increasing the supply of new homes, improving access to healthcare and making a generational shift in the delivery of quality childcare. In other words, it is about the State being there for people when they most need it.
We will deliver this through investment in key front-line public services, recruiting additional staff, and delivering the largest capital investment programme in the history of our State.
RECOVERING FROM COVID
The Government's response to the pandemic has been unprecedented and, at the same time, warranted.
Since the onset of Covid, our singular aim has been to do all we can as a Government to protect lives and livelihoods.
To that end, we have made available €31 billion in direct expenditure measures.
This funding has enabled our health service to protect our community from Covid and to deliver a world-class vaccination programme, facilitating the reopening of our society.
The funding helped us to keep our public transport system going, support our sporting and community organisations, reopen our schools and give a basic income to people who lost their job due to Covid.
The funding has directly supported the incomes of 1.36 million people over the course of the pandemic, including more than 660,000 workers, who at different times had their wages paid in full or in part by the State through the wage subsidy scheme.
The Irish economy is now rebounding strongly.
The economic growth we are seeing, and the return of so many people to work, is evidence that the Government was right to step in and provide this exceptional level of support when our economy and our society needed it.
Now we have to harness the recovery to build a better quality of life for all our people.
Achieving this will not be straightforward, but the Government has agreed an expenditure strategy that will allow us to make real progress.
In the summer economic statement, the Government agreed a strategy for incremental and sustainable increases in public expenditure in the coming years.
Today, I am presenting an expenditure budget in line with this strategy – a budget that allows the Government to reduce the deficit in a managed way while delivering improvements in quality of life for our people.
Notwithstanding the improvement in the projected deficit this year as a result of our strong recovery, we are sticking to our plans. To those who believe we should spend more, I say that we owe it to our children and to future generations to be careful in how we manage the public finances. This budget strikes the right balance.
Next year, I am providing €87.6 billion for public expenditure.
€80.1 billion of this will be made available in core expenditure, an increase of more than €4.2 billion or 5.5% on this year, with capital spending increasing by more than twice the rate of current spending.
I am providing €69.2 billion for core current expenditure – an increase of 4.6% in line with the summer economic statement.
€11.1 billion will be made available next year under the national development plan, a 14% increase on this year’s capital allocation.
A Cheann Comhairle, I am providing up to €7 billion in Covid funding, inclusive of the national recovery and resilience plan, for next year. This funding will be made available as required to continue our fight against the pandemic.
It will fund public health measures, in particular the continuation of our testing and tracing capacity, and our vaccination booster campaign.
It will continue to support incomes and jobs through the employment wage subsidy scheme and will further support a range of sectors in their recovery from Covid.
Building on our experience of the pandemic, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and I will be holding approximately €4 billion of the Covid provision as a contingency reserve so that we can adapt if faced with the unexpected. This prudent approach served us well last year as we had the resources available to respond to the uncertainties presented by the pandemic.
Of the €4.2 billion increase in core expenditure next year, I am allocating €1.45 billion for new current expenditure measures.
Before turning to the measures in Budget 2022, I wish to inform the House that I am making €286 million in additional funding available immediately, in the current year, to support the recovery of our economy and society. This includes:
- €90 million for an aviation package to help us rebuild vital connectivity;
- €30 million for the protection and renewal of our roads;
- €50 million in ICT grants for primary and post-primary schools;
- more than €60 million to extend the commercial rates waiver for quarter 4, targeted at the hospitality, arts and certain tourism-related sectors; and
- €30 million, a Cheann Comhairle, for the Department of Health to provide further supports for the areas hard hit by the pandemic - palliative care, mental health services and disability services.
A Cheann Comhairle, the provision of housing for our people is an absolute priority for this Government.
Through the Housing for All strategy and the funding provided under the national development plan, this Government has placed the State front and centre in the provision of social and affordable housing in this country.
Combining funding through the Exchequer, the Land Development Agency and the Housing Finance Agency, an unprecedented €20 billion of public money is being made available over the next five years, which represents the single biggest housing investment programme in the history of our State.
By 2025, this will see on average each year:
- 4,000 new affordable purchase homes;
- 2,000 new affordable cost rental homes; and
- 9,500 new build social homes.
Next year, I am allocating a record €6 billion in Exchequer funding to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
This is an increase of over 15.6% on the 2021 allocation and a 48% increase over the last three years.
A total of €2.5 billion in direct Exchequer capital funding will be made available for housing alone, which will support the delivery of 9,000 new-build social housing units next year. To address affordability, €174 million in Exchequer funding will go to supporting the direct delivery of over 4,000 affordable homes next year. These homes include affordable purchase and cost rental, and will be delivered through a number of funding channels including the Land Development Agency and the First Home scheme.
I am allocating €50 million in Exchequer funding next year to commence the Croí Cónaithe fund to help service sites and refurbish properties in towns and villages across Ireland, and to increase owner occupier apartment development in city centres. We will invest €1.6 billion in water services next year, much of which will help to unlock further housing supply and improve the sustainability of the water network. In the period 2021 to 2025, almost €6 billion investment will be undertaken by Irish Water, of which €4.5 billion will be voted Exchequer funding.
Current expenditure supports will continue to play a necessary role in housing delivery. I am increasing the Department’s current budget by €168 million, or 7%. This will deliver an additional 14,000 HAP tenancies, bringing to 66,000 the total number of tenancies supported.
The Government acknowledges the devastation being experienced by thousands of households impacted by defective mica building blocks. Following consideration of the working group report from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Government will bring forward proposals in the coming weeks for a significantly enhanced scheme to address this important issue.
Over the past year and a half, our health service has been tested like never before. To ensure we continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic, I am allocating €1 billion in 2022 for Covid-related health measures, of which €200 million will be held in a central contingency. This funding will include €500 million for Covid measures such as testing and tracing, the delivery of a booster vaccination programme, and for PPE across the health system. As we look to the longer term, I believe that one of the most important legacies we can leave following this pandemic is a reformed public health service that provides for the people of this country based on medical need, regardless of income. To accomplish this, we need to significantly increase capacity with more hospital and community care beds and additional doctors, nurses and consultants. Budget 2022 provides further resources to drive this strategic reform of the health system in line with Sláintecare. It will see core current health expenditure increase by €1 billion, or 5.3%, to a record level of €20.38 billion. Including capital and the Covid provision, this brings total expenditure to €22.2 billion.
The progressive reform of our health system to implement universal healthcare involves three critical components: access, affordability and quality. In respect of access, a further €10.5 million has been provided for 19 additional critical care beds in 2022, bringing the total ICU beds next year to 340, a 33% increase in critical care capacity since the onset of the pandemic. Over 800 additional acute hospital beds have been added to the health system compared with before the pandemic, with further progress to be made over the remainder of this year and next year.
Addressing waiting lists is an urgent priority for the Government and I am allocating €250 million specifically to address this challenge to build further on the recently published acute waiting list action plan.
Accessing healthcare represents a significant cost for many families. In order to improve affordability, as part of a universally accessible healthcare system, I am pleased to announce the following measures: an extension of free GP care to children aged 6 and 7, with the intention to extend this to cover all children up to the of age 12; a lowering of the drug payment scheme threshold to €100; significant investment to improve dental access across a range of oral health measures; measures to reduce the financial burden of hospital charges for children under the age of 18; and a €30 million package for new drugs to ensure our citizens have access to the best high-tech drugs available globally.
In relation to quality of care, we will strengthen our National Ambulance Service, invest further in infection prevention and control, and advance the roll-out of nursing safe staffing programmes.
I am also pleased to announce a dedicated women's health package worth €31 million. This will include access to free contraception for women aged 17 to 25 from next August; a further investment in measures identified in the women’s health task force; progress regarding the period poverty implementation group; additional funding for sexual assault treatment units; and implementation of the national maternity strategy and the gynaecology model of care.
I am also confirming the following health measures: an additional €105 million for disability services next year, including supports for school leavers and for people with disabilities inappropriately living in nursing homes; an additional €37 million to fund the expansion of mental health services; and an extra €30 million to progress delivery of a number of national strategies, including the cancer strategy and investment in trauma centres and transplant programmes.
To underpin our commitment to the sector we are adding some 7,000 new posts across the health system. We will build on that by recruiting a further 8,000 staff next year, bringing the overall number of employees in the health sector to 144,000.
The invaluable role childcare plays in the day-to-day lives of thousands of families throughout the country cannot be overstated. Our early years and childcare workers, who care for and educate our children, deserve our support and should be paid a wage appropriate to the responsibilities they carry. We need more capacity in our childcare sector and more flexibility for working parents. We also need to address the cost of childcare.
Budget 2022 marks a turning point in the State’s approach to the early years and childcare sector.
We will invest a record €716 million in childcare next year. I am providing €78 million for additional investment in core funding for the childcare sector and to reform the national childcare scheme. This significant increase in core funding for childcare represents a statement of intent from this Government that the delivery of a sustainable service for providers, staff, parents and children is a key priority.
A new funding stream for up to 4,700 early years and childcare providers will be put in place from September next year onwards, at an estimated cost of €69 million next year, to support improvements in the quality of childcare provision.
This additional funding will, first and foremost, improve conditions for workers. We note that a joint labour committee for the childcare sector is due to report next September leading to an expected employment regulation order soon after. The funding the Government is allocating will support providers in attracting and retaining staff, will provide more options for parents and is linked to a commitment of no increases in fees to parents.
To address affordability for parents, we will extend the national childcare scheme universal subsidy to children under the age of 15 from September, benefitting up to 40,000 children at a cost of €5 million.
We will also remove the practice of deducting hours spent in preschool or school from the entitlement to national childcare scheme subsidised hours. This will benefit an estimated 5,000 children, particularly from low-income families, at a cost of €4 million.
These reforms, and the very significant increase in core funding, demonstrate the Government’s commitment to the sustainability of the childcare sector and the inclusive provision of childcare for all children.
Short-term measures, backed up with Covid funding of €37 million in 2022, will be put in place to support the transition of services to this new model.
I will also allocate €28 million to support the Department to commence the roll-out of the White Paper to end direct provision and implement a new approach to support the needs of international protection applicants in Ireland.
The evidence of the climate crisis is clear for all to see. The national development plan, along with the upcoming climate action plan and carbon budgets, will set a path for Ireland to reduce its emissions by 51% by the end of this decade.
Next year will see €700 million in capital investment by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. This is a record level of funding for that Department but next year's allocation is merely the start of a ramp-up in capital spending that will see almost €13 billion of direct capital investment by that Department over the lifetime of the national development plan to deliver on the promise of a connected and sustainable Ireland.
Some €202 million of this funding will be spent in 2022 on supporting people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. It is estimated that this will support over 22,000 home energy upgrades, including support for those in, or at risk of, energy poverty. Permanently reducing a household’s energy needs is the best way to tackle energy poverty and to protect people from the impact of high energy costs. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create thousands of additional jobs. To ensure that workers can avail of these jobs, additional funding is being provided through the The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to expand training programmes and apprenticeships in this area.
As with previous years, every single euro raised by the increase in carbon tax will be returned to the people of Ireland in a progressive manner. An additional €174 million will be made available in 2022 for energy efficiency and to protect the most vulnerable in society. Some of these measures will be included in the social welfare package which I will outline in a few moments. These changes ensure that the net impact of the carbon tax is progressive, just as we promised in the programme for Government. Households in the bottom four income deciles will see all of the cost of the carbon tax increase offset, with the bottom three deciles being better off as a result of these measures. This is a tangible demonstration of the Government’s commitment to achieving a just transition.
DELIVERING THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Through the €165 billion national development plan, NDP, the Government is matching its commitment to improving day-to-day public services with the largest capital budget in the history of the State. The NDP is an infrastructure plan for the twenty-first century. It will help us to address the housing crisis, deliver on our climate ambitions, and promote economic renewal. Next year, I will allocate €11.1 billion under the Plan, and along with further non-Exchequer investment, this will bring Ireland’s investment in capital to almost 5 per cent of GNI*, well above the European average.
Transport will be a key part of the NDP and I am allocating €3.4 billion inclusive of current expenditure to the Department to support the delivery of a range of projects next year. Over €1.4 billion will be provided to further develop our public transport networks and to support the transition to a decarbonised and climate-resilient transport system. This funding will help to progress major investments, including: BusConnects, MetroLink and the DART+ programme; electric vehicle, EV, grants and other carbon reduction measures.
In order to promote a modal shift in the transport sector, I am providing €25 million for the introduction of a youth travel card. This card will be available to any person between the ages of 19 and 23 and will allow them to avail of a 50 per cent discount on fares across the transport network.
Some €360 million is being provided for active travel and greenways. This will deliver projects right across the country.
Some €1.4 billion will allow for the progression of some of the new major road schemes identified in the NDP.
In aviation, a €60 million allocation provides for a number of capital and operational grant schemes as well as providing the necessary funds to support regional public service obligation air services.
Some €108 million in maritime funding will mean increased investment in safety-related training, equipment and systems for the Irish Coast Guard.
For generations, investing in education has provided opportunities for social mobility and increased quality of life for our people. I am allocating €9.2 billion to the Department of Education in 2022, including a capital budget of almost €800 million. This allocation will support the Department’s school building programme which involves in excess of 200 projects. Once completed, these will deliver over 30,000 school places.
This Government’s commitment to children with special education needs will allow for the hiring of 980 additional teachers and 1,165 additional SNAs, supporting those with special educational needs in special classes, special schools and mainstream settings. With over 19,000 SNAs, this will bring investment in special education to the highest level in the State’s history.
I am providing an additional investment of €30 million for the school transport scheme.
I am also providing funding for a schools package including: 350 additional teacher posts enabling a reduction in the staffing schedule for all primary schools by 1 point, which is a reduction in class sizes; some €18 million to increase the number of schools and children benefiting from the DEIS programme and €4 million to extend the hot schools meals to more DEIS primary schools; additional administrative principals in special schools and mainstream schools with two or more special classes; and additional funding for voluntary secondary schools in the free education scheme.
Other measures in the education sector include progress on a pay deal for our wonderful school secretaries, subject to agreement on the outstanding elements.
I am allocating €3.7 billion for the higher education, further education and training, research and innovation sectors, reflecting the Government’s commitment to supporting all learners in their education and recognising the key role these sectors play in our economy and society. I am providing €68 million in additional investment in the higher education sector, including for 3,320 additional CAO places arising from this year’s leaving certificate. The Minister will shortly bring a report on the future funding of the sector to the Government for consideration. We will ensure our decisions in respect of future funding for this sector reflect its vital role as a cornerstone of our economic model.
I am also providing €35 million in additional funding to support students in meeting the costs of going to higher education and dealing with the impacts of Covid. With this, the maintenance grant under the Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, system will be increased by €200. This will be the first increase of the rate of the ordinary maintenance grant since 2012 and will benefit about 60,000 students. This funding will also improve eligibility by expanding the qualifying income thresholds by €1,000 and reducing the qualifying distance to qualify for the non-adjacent rate grant from 45 km to 30 km. In addition, the €200 contribution fee for post-leaving certificate courses will be abolished and I am providing a further €3 million to support lifelong learning and, in particular, literacy and digital numeracy skills for adults.
While our investment in education has provided a gateway to improved living standards for many in our society, we know that many have not fully enjoyed the economic and social progress our country has experienced. Over a long period, our social welfare system has sought to redress this balance, supporting the most vulnerable among us. To allow us to make progress next year, I am pleased to announce a social welfare package worth €558 million. This allows me to increase by €5 weekly payments for working-age recipients, with proportionate increases for qualified adults and those on reduced rates of payment. This includes a full €5 increase for young jobseekers.
The increase for qualified children rate in respect of children under 12 will increase by €2 and by €3 for those aged 12 and over. I am also pleased to confirm a €5 increase in weekly payments for pension-age recipients, with proportionate increases for qualified adults and those on reduced rates of payment. I am increasing the living alone allowance by €3 to ensure the well-being of many thousands of our older citizens will be protected in the years ahead. To support families, I am increasing the duration of parent’s benefit by two weeks to seven weeks from July of next year. From June, I am also increasing the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance by €10, equalising the income thresholds for the allowance for one and two-parent households and increasing the income threshold for the working family payment by €10 for all families.
To support carers and people with disabilities, we will extend the period during which domiciliary care allowance can be paid for children in hospital from three to six months, and the rate of the wage subsidy scheme for people with disabilities will increase by €1 per hour. From June of next year, I am increasing the income disregard for the carer's allowance from €332.50 to €350 for a single person and from €665 to €750 for a couple; I am increasing the capital disregard for the carer's allowance from €20,000 to €50,000; the earnings limit on the disability allowance will increase from €350 to €375; and I am increasing the general weekly means disregard for the disability allowance from €2.50 to €7.60 per week. I am also reducing the number of contributions needed to qualify for treatment benefits from 260 to 39 for those aged 25 to 28, inclusive.
We are all acutely aware of the impact on households of increasing energy costs. To directly address this, I am increasing the weekly rate of the fuel allowance by €5. This increase will apply from midnight tonight. I am also increasing to €120 the level of means allowed above the maximum contributory State pension rate for the fuel allowance means test and reducing the qualifying period on jobseeker's allowance and the supplementary welfare allowance from 15 to 12 months. Taken together with the changes I have announced to weekly core welfare rates, the increase in the living alone allowance and the qualified child increase, the cumulative effect of this package will be to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Finally, I am pleased to announce a 100% Christmas bonus for 2021, which will assist many families with outgoings over the festive period.
LABOUR MARKET SUPPORTS
There is significant mobility in our labour market. It will surprise many to learn that 115,000 people who have come off the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, to return to work have moved to a different sector from that of their previous employment. The Government’s Pathways to Work strategy will be a critical element of supporting people who need help finding new jobs after Covid as well as those unemployed pre-Covid. The plan does this through a range of measures, including a new work placement scheme, additional places on the community employment and Tús employment programmes, and 20,000 new further education and training places. I am also making available a further €34 million for apprenticeships, which will include off-the-job training places for 7,000 apprentices impacted by Covid and a new employer grant for apprentices to be introduced from January next year.
A competitive, innovative and resilient enterprise base is essential for the recovery and future prosperity of our country. We need a strong economy to pay for all the public services and the supports we want to provide as a country. In this regard, I am allocating almost €900 million to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. This will provide funding for a number of new measures including the establishment of the new corporate enforcement agency. I am increasing core capital expenditure by more than €90 million, or 21%, next year. In addition, as part of the Covid contingency reserve, I am allocating an additional €17 million for once-off Covid capital enterprise supports next year.
The next decade will see a number of profound changes in our economy and society. The allocation I have provided for today will go towards helping our enterprises transition through these changes. A new funding call for the disruptive technology innovation fund will support projects across a range of sectors including environmental sustainability, artificial intelligence, AI, life sciences and medical devices. The creation of a digital transition fund will help encourage the development and adoption of data analytics and AI.
TOURISM, CULTURE, ARTS, GAELTACHT, SPORT AND MEDIA
The tourism, culture, arts, Gaeltacht, sports and media sectors have been hit particularly hard by Covid. The upcoming easing of restrictions will assist these sectors. I am conscious, however, that further support will be required to underpin their recovery. In this regard, I am providing €50 million for further business continuity supports and €39 million for enhanced tourism marketing and product development. The arts and culture sector will benefit from a pilot basic income guarantee scheme for artists and €25 million for the continuation of live entertainment supports. I am also making an additional €6.3 million available to promote and develop the Irish language and support Údarás Na Gaeltachta. An additional €4 million of funding is being provided for TG4 and €5.5 million will go towards the establishment of the new media commission. Finally, I am providing additional funding for the sports capital grants programme.
I am allocating €1.85 billion for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine next year, an increase of €32 million on the 2021 budget allocation. This funding package will maintain critical supports throughout the sector while also providing for a number of new measures, including providing for a second phase of the soil sampling programme in 2022, fully establishing the food ombudsman and delivering on the programme for Government commitment to doubling ex gratia funding for animal welfare organisations next year.
In addition to these measures, I have been in discussions with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in respect of the indicative allocations for the Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, Strategic Plan 2023-2027. He is finalising the details at present and will soon publish them as part of a further public consultation on the plan, which is required to be submitted to the European Commission by the end of this year. In this context, both the Minister and I are conscious of the special position accorded to agriculture in the programme for Government and the commitment made in regard to the allocation of carbon tax receipts.
RURAL AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Covid has highlighted the value of community. As we move forward, we must carry this with us and continue to empower and support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland. To support this, I am allocating €376 million to the Department of Rural and Community Development next year, including an additional €12 million in current expenditure. Some €4 million of the additional €12 million will be provided to the social inclusion and community activation programme, SICAP, targeting groups which are currently under-represented. This current funding package is being provided alongside a €23 million increase in capital funding for this Department next year. A total of €5 million of this will provide for the establishment of a new small capital grant scheme for community centre upgrades.
Our experience through Covid has given us all a renewed sense of community, at home and abroad, and an appreciation of the important work of safeguarding our society. The budget I am presenting today includes an additional €145 million for the justice sector, an increase of 5.3% on the allocation for 2021. Next year, An Garda Síochána will celebrate 100 years since its foundation - a century of service to our country and our people, ensuring the security of our State and the safety of our communities. We remember the many gardaí who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty over the past 100 years, often defending the State from those who would seek to subvert it. In An Garda Síochána’s centenary year, I am making provision for the recruitment of 800 extra gardaí and 400 extra Garda civilian staff in 2022, a further commitment by this Government in prioritising visible policing in both rural and urban communities.
Regrettably, the year to date has brought with it a rise in antisocial behaviour in some communities. I am making €6.7 million available in 2022 for the youth justice strategy, which will seek to develop and deliver programmes and early interventions for children and young people. As stated in the justice plan 2021, future generations will look back on the scourge of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and ask why it was tolerated as a lesser form of crime or abuse for so long. The funding package I am announcing today will extend legal aid for victims, fund awareness campaigns and give An Garda Síochána the tools it needs to help victims and punish those responsible.
I am also providing additional funding to progress the courts modernisation programme and improvements in the Prison Service. I am also making funding available for the gambling regulatory authority.
I acknowledge the work of the Defence Forces in supporting the public health strategy over the last 18 months, through contact tracing, logistics and medical support, to name a few examples. I note that the work of the Commission on the Defence Forces is ongoing and that the commission is due to report by the end of this year. The Government will carefully consider any recommendations it makes and I very much look forward to engaging positively in this process.
OUR SHARED ISLAND
This Government continues to progress the shared island initiative and to deepen co-operation and connection across the island, underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement. To match the scale of our ambition to deliver for the people of the island through all-island partnerships, the Government is allocating €50 million to the shared island fund to advance key projects in 2022 and will commit a total of €500 million to this fund out to 2025.
I am particularly pleased that we have secured EU and UK support for a special new PEACE PLUS programme, with a total value of €1 billion, that will build on and continue the work of previous PEACE and INTERREG programmes.
The lifetime of this Government will see Ireland mark 50 years of membership of the European Union. Our membership has played an important role in Ireland’s social, economic and political development in the intervening five decades. Throughout that period we have benefitted from the solidarity that comes with EU membership. This solidarity has never been more evident than in the Brexit negotiations. Ireland will receive just over €1 billion of funding from the Brexit adjustment reserve, the biggest single allocation for any member state, representing just over 20% of the total fund. As the member state most impacted by Brexit, we will use this funding to help to counter the adverse economic and social consequences of Brexit in areas such as enterprise supports, supports for the fisheries and agrifood sectors, reskilling and retraining, and checks and controls at our ports and airports.
At the heart of NextGenerationEU is the recovery and resilience facility under which Ireland will receive almost €1 billion in EU funding. The overall objective of our national recovery and resilience plan is to contribute to a sustainable, equitable, green and digital recovery.
Ireland will receive a total of €1.3 billion in cohesion policy funding for the period from 2021 to 2027. National match funding will mean Structural Funds programmes with a total value of almost €3.5 billion.
As we move through the pandemic and deal with the consequences of Brexit, we continue to look to the future. That is why the programme for Government sets out a vision of Ireland at the heart of Europe and global citizenship. The provision next year of an additional €69 million for foreign affairs reflects this vision and the Government’s commitment to serving our citizens at home and abroad. Our focus will continue to be on expanding and deepening our response to Brexit; enhancing Ireland’s global presence across our overseas mission network; our continued membership of the UN Security Council; and delivering a modern and efficient online passport service.
As a country, we have long demonstrated a very strong commitment in the area of international co-operation and development. I am pleased to announce a cross-Government official development aid, ODA, package of over €1 billion next year. This is the largest quantum of ODA ever provided by Ireland and represents an important step towards delivering the programme for Government commitment to double the Irish Aid programme’s investment in climate action by 2030.
PROGRESSING PUBLIC SERVICE REFORMS
The allocations I have announced, while significant in themselves, must be matched by a commitment to deliver value for money across all areas of government. This will mean further embedding digitisation and new ways of working across our public services. It will mean implementing reforms to the public spending code to ensure that it is compatible with the Government’s enhanced climate ambition and that projects are delivered on time and on budget. It will also mean enhancing our understanding of the impact of budget decisions from a climate, equality and well-being perspective and conducting spending reviews so we can improve how our policies and resources are targeted.
A Cheann Comhairle, as I said at the outset, the past year and a half has seen us all walk a long road together. Some led the way along the road, and we salute them. For many, it was a difficult road as they suffered loss of loved ones and of livelihoods. However, we all walked that road in solidarity. Nelson Mandela told us:
Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
Now, with the overwhelming majority of our citizens vaccinated and as we move to ease most of the remaining restrictions, we can begin to hope that the worst of the crisis is firmly behind us. Now we can begin to turn to the future, a future we can face with a new sense of hope, but also acknowledging that the road ahead is uncertain.
The budget that the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and I are presenting will help us to secure social and economic recovery. It is anchored in a conviction that we can take the lessons from Covid and help to build a country with a better quality of life for our people. I look forward to a time when the crisis will be in the past and a distant memory for our children. I look forward to a time when the historians will conclude that we rose to the challenge, we learned the lessons and we emerged in a better place. I commend this budget to the House.