#Budget18: Low-paid workers will benefit from Budget, coffee shop owner says

Ireland's Budget has served up some welcome news for low-paid workers, a coffee shop owner on the border has said.

Stephen Egan, owner of Panama coffee shop in Dundalk, Co Louth, praised measures he said would help his staff.

"It's a balanced budget overall, we'll be hit in some places but helped in others, so it should even out," he said.

The cafe employs seven members of staff, who Mr Egan says will benefit from reforms for low-paid workers.

These include an increase in the Christmas bonus of 85% to welfare claimants and a rise and a reduction of the Universal Social Charge (USC) from 5% to 4.75%.

He said: "Some of our staff are on minimum wage and I pay myself the minimum wage. So we'll be better off due to the USC tax cut.

"A few of our staff are young mothers who will stand to benefit from the Christmas bonus to welfare payments as well as more free childcare - so that's good, it will be helpful for them."

Mr Egan said the "sugar tax" of 30 cents per litre on drinks with more than 8g of sugar will likely force him to increase his prices in the cafe but he does not expect this to impact on sales.

He said: "We'll probably have to put costs up on sugary drinks, like (sparkling water brand) San Pellegrino because of this sugar tax.

"That won't put people off buying them, they're very popular. I think customers will continue to buy them.

"Quite a few of the fizzy drinks we stock don't have enough sugar in them to count under the new tax. Drinks like Coke Zero won't be affected, so we won't be increasing prices with those."

However, Mr Egan said the budget could have done more to address rising rent costs, saying that although 3,800 new social houses will be built, the government could have gone further.

"Prices round here are crazy, the rents just keep rising. It can really affect people living in Dundalk, including my staff," he said.

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