Budget to deliver more money in pockets and purses - but pack of smokes to increase by 50 cent.

Details are emerging of the Budget which Finance Minister Michael Noonan will deliver to the Dail this afternoon. The financial measures have a few giveaways to keep voters sweet ahead of the general election expected next year. Two weeks of paid paternity leave and free preschool for children from the age of three will be offered to parents. In terms of Universal Social Charge, the changes to three of four rates have been well leaked. The 7% rate is being cut by 1.5%. The 1.5 and 3.5% rates are being cut by .5% The threshold at which people pay the USC currently stands at over €12,000 - that will rise to €13,000 and will take another 90,000 people out of the tax The Christmas Bonus, abolished in 2009, will be restored by 75%. This means a single pensioner will get €173 and a pensioner couple will get €327. The bad news for smokers as the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes is to increase by 50 cent. The Fuel Allowance payment will increase by €2.50 per week from January, which will see a rise from €20 a week to €22.50, affecting 380,000 households. Elsewhere, the Respite Care Grant will be restored in full. Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, will address the Dail at 2.15pm which will be followed by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, at 3pm.

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