Finance Minister Michael Noonan is increasing the price of a packet of cigarettes by 40 cent, it has emerged.

The price increase will come into effect overnight.

Meanwhile,  workers earning less than €12,000 will be exempt from the Universal Service Charge under other plans to be announced by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.

The new move is expected to boost lower and middle income earners.

Informed sources said today that the only tax hike planned is the price of a packet of cigarettes as the Government attempts to put a few extra euro into the pockets of hard pressed families.

Therefore there will be no alcohol tax increases.

The total cost of Budget 2015, including tax measures and spending, is €800m to €900m.

A range of other measure have already been leaked including a drop in the top level of taxation from 41pc to 40pc.

The budget also includes plans for more teachers and gardai while there will also be tax relief on the water charges.

A sweetener for the ‘grey vote’ is also on the cards including €100 off water bills for most pensioners.

The Government is expected to announce a three-year road map for the first time today.