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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.

IT’S ALL OVER. Budget 2015 has been announced – but how has it been received by the public?

We asked, you responded.

In the first of two readers’ panels (Part Two will be published later this evening), we get the views of:

1. Owner of a small/medium business

2. A cohabiting person

3. A student

4. An unemployed person

5. A lone parent

6. A public servant


1. Alison McGinley lives in Dublin and runs a business, TaxAssist. She had been hoping for tax cuts to help stimulate consumer spending, complemented by increased lending to SMEs

I’m pleased that something small has been given back to taxpayers. On some of our calculations, people are better off by say €500-€700 per year. That in itself is a big boost to business owners. I’m also happy that they kept the 9% VAT rate for tourism related activities. Our farming clients will want to know more about the changes in their sector as there were quite a few new initiatives.

I am disappointed that nothing concrete was suggested about lending. The Minister mentioned the new ‘Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland’. That is all well and good but we have been waiting a long time for lending to improve and I am still not clear how or when this will happen. I am also disappointed that, despite the tax cuts Minister Noonan brought in, the top rate of tax for a self-employed person is still out of line with that of a PAYE worker. In some instances self-employed individuals have an effective rate of 55% versus 52% for a PAYE worker on the same wage.n


2. Eamon O’Connor lives in Co Wexford with his partner. He works full-time and his partner works part-time; they are expecting their first child next month. He was worried about potential adjustments in PRSI or USC.

As a medical card holder, the introduction of a lower USC rate of 3.5% on the balance was welcomed, it’s only a small saving, but a saving nonetheless. I’m also happy with the increase in Child Benefit, again, it’s only a fiver a month, but €5 is still €5.

The fact that there has also been no change to motor tax or diesel is also a big plus. As for the water charges, they can still shove that bill where the sun don’t shine; no changes in motor tax means that we’re still paying for water through this medium and general taxation, enough is enough!


3. Niall O’Sullivan is a third level student, living in Dublin. He was hoping that the Government reduces the financial stress on those pursuing education, which he believes is contributing to mental health problems for many students.

Budget 2015 has left me with mixed emotions. One thing I hoped for this budget was a reversal in college fees. My hope wasn’t realised. Fees were once again hiked up by €250. Students must now pay precisely €3,000 to go to college next year. I had hoped for a back-tracking in this budget. I don’t know where this is going to stop.

Trinity, UCD, NUI Maynooth and numerous other colleges are major research hubs in this country. We pride ourselves on our developed education system. Yet the government seems to have ignored us again. I’m hugely disappointed at this aspect of the budget.

However, one big positive is the €13.1 billion that has been pledged to the Department of Health over the next year. Brendan Howlin spoke specifically of how a major chunk of this would go towards the provision of staff for people seeking mental health support in primary care. It appears our Government may finally be facing up to the unspoken dilemma of mental health issues among young people.

While this is of course a positive, the increased college fees leave a bad taste in my mouth. A €429 million rise has been put towards social protection, although it’s unclear how much of this will benefit education. I recognise that there are many people worse off than students, but that shouldn’t give the Government licence to target us. All in all, I’m disappointed at this year’s budget.

4. Grainne O’Brien lives in Dublin and is unemployed. She’s hoping that her welfare payments will not be reduced, and that the price of petrol stays steady so that she can continue to attend interviews outside her home county. (She preferred not to include a photo.)

Thankfully I’m not hit too hard – but for all the years the government has taken, the giving back is minuscule.

The water charges relief? That won’t affect lower income families on the minimum wage as they’re not earning enough. Also, like the mortgage relief, it can be scrapped in future budgets. So I wouldn’t eat that carrot too quick.

There are no real job incentives; JobPath and JobBridge are free labour to the company, with the government paying. It should have been compulsory for the company to hire permanently or never use the system again. But this is what they chose to invest in.

Also, with the minimum wage and USC 1.5% you’re saving €80 a year – sure, that’ll go out the window on water charges. It’s not even a tenner a month. So, theoretically, it’s giving nothing back to the people. Just moving figures around as a new charge will be in the door in January.

They haven’t done enough and I’m sure this is to get people back on their sides.

I am delighted to see they will be investing hugely in social housing, as we have gone past crisis level and it had been ignored for too long. I just hope they get it sorted really soon.

I’m sure there are a few things they wanted to hide deep until the new year that we wont find out until then.


5. Andrea Galgey lives in Waterford. She is a lone parent, caring for her three children, and is hoping for greater childcare help for families so more parents can afford to pursue employment and education. 

I’m delighted that people on low incomes are going to see some relief in USC charges and tax, it’s about time the Government helped those on low incomes. For myself I have worked out that I stand to lose €4,216 per annum next year and gain €384 per annum!

My increase comes in the form of Child Benefit and USC changes. My decrease is due to changes in Budget 2012 where I will lose my One Parent Family Payment and be changed over to Jobseeker’s Allowance in July 2015. My Family Income Supplement will increase slightly but I will still be down €70 per week. I will also lose my fuel allowance in July when my One Parent Family Payment goes. I feel that this change is one of the hidden and most severe changes that has been brought in under any administration because it hits lone parents who are working – and who are struggling financially according to every poverty index report.

An increase of €5 per month in Child Benefit is an insult to parents who were hoping to see some concessions towards the cost of childcare. I would have rather seen no increase and investment into the childcare sector. Childcare is the biggest expenditure after rent/mortgage and this is hindering parents, especially lone parents from returning to the workplace. Joan Burton promised affordable childcare would be in place before the One Parent Family Payment changes took affect, but this promise has not been kept.

Lone parents are also the only long term recipients of a social welfare payment (average of six years on One Parent Family Payment) who do not receive the Household Benefits Package and so the extension of the package to include water rates means that lone parents receive no help (again).

I am delighted to hear about the increased funding for social housing because of the crisis in the housing market and the vulnerability tenants feel whilst renting, especially if they are receiving Rent Allowance. Social Housing provides security and means that people can earn a living wage.


6. Niranjan Srinivasan is a public servant who has been working with the HSE as a Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist since 2003. He is married with a young child and has been hoping to buy a house for the last six years.

As expected the Budget didn’t disappoint me but didn’t make me feel over the moon, either..

The key points for me are…

The reduction of the income tax by 1%. Hopefully this will add a few bob at the end of the month. The abolition of the pension levy is welcome. I was hoping the USC would go altogether but at least it has been reduced a bit. An increase of child benefit by €60 per annum will hopefully cover a little. Thank god they didn’t introduce any other tax but everything will be evened out in 2015 with the water charges.

Overall, I am not hurt any more than I was, but at least they didn’t stab me with more austerity.

Readers’ Panel Part One: What are you expecting from Budget 2015?

Readers’ Panel Part Two: What are you expecting from Budget 2015?

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