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How was it for you? Our Readers' Panel react, Part One

We spoke to some readers about their hopes and fears ahead of today’s budget. Here’s how they were affected, in their own words.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IT HAS BEEN CALLED a number of things by a number of politicians and interest groups, but how was the Budget for real people?

We asked. You responded. And here’s how our panel reacted.

In the first of our readers’ panels, we  get the views of:

  1. Couple, working, with children
  2. Small business owner
  3. Public sector worker
  4. Full-time carer
  5. A single parent

image1. Una, lives in a small Westmeath village with a population of just over 300. She and her husband are both self-employed, and have three young children. She believes rural areas are being, and will continue to be, neglected by the government.

I think that the free GP care for children probably doesn’t go far enough. I think you don’t tend to take children under five to the doctor an awful lot anyway. I would have liked that to be extended a little more.

It’s looks good, but it’s not going to be of any real benefit.

I’m glad that they didn’t increase the tax on petrol because I do a lot of travelling. We live in a rural area where people have to drive a lot, so that will be welcomed.

I work with a lot of people who are in the tourism sector and they will be very happy about the retention of the tourism VAT rate. But the Government now needs to capitalise on the fact that we’re an attractive place to come visit.

image2. John Brophy is owner of Carrig Solutions, an IT company based in County Wicklow that employs nine people and is currently Company of The Year as voted by Wicklow Chamber of Commerce. He believes that this year’s Budget needs to be a positive one to restore consumer confidence fully, and should also include measures which encourage people to take on employment over Jobseekers payments.

We’re happy enough with it. I think it was a good Budget to be honest.

I know there has been a number of small measures that may or may not help. As ever, the devil is in the detail.

It is quite a good pro-business budget.

No increase in VAT is a big thing for us. No excise duty on diesel is another. One of the things we were hoping for was a bit of hope and I think this Budget has delivered that.

image3. Pete is a public sector worker in Sligo County Council. He feels Budget 2014 will be very similar to other years, and that his pay-cheque will continue to be stretched. He also believes that not enough reform has been introduced to Local Authorities, where money could be saved.

I suppose there was no massive surprises, The hikes in the old reliables came. I heard some people giving out about the increase in the bottle of wine, but that’s really a First World problem so I’m not too concerned about that.

The Bereavement Grant is a brave move to take something so emotive. I didn’t even know it existed.

I was glad to see DIRT go up. I think if people are accruing money then the rest of us can benefit from it.

I suppose the Fine Gael agenda was pushed  a little bit further. I had hoped that more would be taken from those at the top, but it wasn’t. I think most right-minded people would think that the corporation tax could be increased, even marginally.

The less well off are still going to be upset about how the country is being run. People are used to these budgets now.

It’s hard to see where it’s going to end. Even the job creation measures are paltry.

4. Catherine Sims from Limerick City is a carer for her 13-year-old son and her elderly father. She is currently claiming half-rate Carer’s Allowance, but feels that any other cuts will push her financial situation over the edge.

Relief would be the main overwhelming feeling.

Yes, we lost the phone allowance, but I think I can live with €20 a month and extra prescription charges, so it could have been a lot worse.

Coming on top of the other cuts, it’s not good, because we’re still hurting from last year’s cut to the respite grant. We’re pleased that the cuts are small and manageable.

I would be worried about the medical card reviews. I am in no doubt that we qualify, but I’d be worried that there would be a gap in  the delivery of the medical cards after the reviews.

I wouldn’t say we’re happy, but we are relieved that the impact hasn’t been too big.

5. Sarah* is a 21-year-old single mother and student in University College Dublin. Two months ago she secured rent allowance and was able to move out of a homeless centre for mothers and babies. She says that a number of aspects of social welfare need to be looked at.

I’m delighted they haven’t touched child benefit, and that there’s been no increase in fuel and energy costs.

I don’t agree with the abolishment of the funeral grant, as funerals are a costly and necessary expense. How are people less well off supposed to afford these now?

There will be even more unmarked graves in cemeteries.

I do not agree with the over 70s medical cards being taken off them, these people have paid incredibly high taxes and most have worked very hard during their working life and deserve a medical card.

I wholeheartedly agree with the extension of the weekly €100 weekly rate to 24 years, as it works as an incentive for them to get out in the work force or training.

(*person wished to remain anonymous, but identity is known to TheJournal.ie)

Here’s Part Two of our readers’ reactions

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