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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019
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Readers’ Panel Part One: What are you expecting from Budget 2015?

We spoke to some readers about their hopes and fears ahead of tomorrow’s budget. Here’s what they had to say, in their own words.

Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

MINISTER FOR FINANCE Michael Noonan has predicted that the economy will grow by as much as 4.5% this year, encouraging the tentative hope that Budget 2015 may not be as harsh as in recent years.

However, despite the economic outlook, Noonan has warned that Ireland has not reached the end of austerity – underlining that there is still a huge debt burden that amounts to 123% of GDP.

But what are your own hopes and fears ahead of next week?

We asked. You told us.

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 single lone

6. A public servant

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

My company TaxAssist was launched in 2009, right in the middle of the recession. We have 25 branches across Ireland offering tax and accountancy services. We work every day with small businesses and the self-employed and we know there are a number of things that are still causing real difficulties.

First and foremost it would be good to see a cut in taxes. The past few budgets have been quite negative so some good news that encourages people to spend is badly needed. When people feel they can justify that meal out or the occasional blow-dry, would-be entrepreneurs start new businesses and jobs are created.

Another thing I would really hope to see is some sort of improvement in lending to small businesses. The banks continue to say they are open for business but in reality very few of our clients are able to get even simple things like overdrafts these days – this is stopping them from expanding and makes the day-to-day running of a business very hard.

Lastly, it would be nice to see the gap, in terms of tax rates, between the self-employed and PAYE earners closed. Self-employed people continue to pay a higher rate of tax, sometimes an extra 3% USC, than people in the PAYE sector, this doesn’t seem to make much sense if we are trying to encourage people to start businesses.

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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’s worried about potential adjustments in PRSI or USC.

Myself and partner live in Co Wexford, and we’re expecting our first child in November, I’m a full-time employee and also run my own web/graphic design business Rolling Toad Design for extra income to help pay the bills. My partner works part-time in a fashion retail chain.

If my take-home pay from my employed job stays the same as it is now, I guess we’ll get by just fine, however if there are significant adjustments to the likes or PRSI or USC, then it will have somewhat of an impact on our lives – and with our first child on the way this November, it won’t make things any easier come the new year.

That being said, the same applies to any increases in the VAT rates; the work I do privately at the moment wouldn’t exactly pay the bills, and with any increases in VAT, this might scare off any potential customers.

I feel the Government needs to let the reins loose a little and give us a break as there have been continuous years of austerity. Let us have a little left over so we can spend it on little luxuries – after all, if that luxury is in Ireland, sure they’ll only get the tax on that anyway.

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

As Budget 2015 nears, few will remember students in the midst of harsh cuts to those most in need. However I feel it would be unfair to forget us.

Student’s lives are often envied, seen as party-packed and alcohol-fuelled. But that’s not always reality. In last year’s budget, college fees were hiked up by €250. I had to pay close to €3,000 to register for my course in Trinity. Then comes the cost of books (one will set me back €75) and, of course, food. I’m lucky that I live at home but I still struggle to budget. I can’t get a part-time job as graduates trounce my CV with every position I apply for.

What do I want from Budget 2015? I want the Government to prove how much it values education. In Budget 2014, the threshold for those eligible for the maintenance grant was raised by 3%. This means that some students – seeking to further their education, like me – couldn’t attend third level because they simply couldn’t afford it. Along with every student across Ireland, I want this threshold reduced.

Many students suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. It seems 15 – 24 year olds is the age group most at risk of suicide. Niteline is run on a voluntary basis by Trinity students and I’m aware of the great work being done in other colleges. But this simply isn’t enough. I want a big emphasis on mental health services for young people in the Budget.

I await 14 October not with anticipation but with anxiety. I truly hope Kenny and co. don’t target students. We’ll find out soon enough.

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.

My fears are that there’ll be no real incentives for the unemployed. I’ve been on two Fás courses so far and starting my third, but in the Government’s eyes I’m employed. I sent out over a thousand CVs for the months I was waiting for the next Fás course and managed four interviews.

I was looking for work in other counties and the majority of the jobs advertised were JobBridge. I don’t want to be unemployed I’d like a decent wage. I hope they don’t cut the welfare, I’m on €144 a week as it is and I have bills to pay like everyone else.

I also hope the petrol doesn’t take a huge jump up. If I need to attend interviews out of the county I’ll need to drive as the services outside Dublin are non-existent.

Road tax another thing. I’m just about keeping my head above water but another austerity budget will see me sinking. Everything is staying the same price or getting higher while income is been severely reduced.

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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 a lone parent of three boys, I live in Waterford and I work on a CE Scheme (which is finishing in December, so I’ll be unemployed then). I am also in college studying for a degree in Community Development (final year).

I am absolutely dreading this budget. Because of previous budgets, I cannot continue in my employment, (Waterford Council Arts Office), which I love. If you take into account previous budgets and cuts to Lone Parents plus Children’s Allowance, I am earning less now than five years ago – the funny thing is, I wasn’t working five years ago!

I would love it if Joan Burton brought in refundable Childcare Tax Credits to help families with the burden of childcare. Families have been hit the worst in this recession. The only thing that has stopped me from sinking financially is that I received a council house four years ago. This has allowed me to work, go to college and to raise my children.

I am a representative of the National One Parent Family Network which lobbies the Government for a reversal of the changes to the One Parent Family Payment in which over 40,000 Lone Parents will be going onto Jobseekers’ Allowance next July. We also try to highlight this in the media and to negate the stereotype and myths about lone parents through the use of statistics and just highlighting our stories.

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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. 

Since the economic downturn in 2007-2008 I have had my pay reduced by about €900 a month. As the single income earner with one child things have been so difficult in the last six years; I have had to put my hands into savings many-a-time and this has meant that I have not been able to save money for buying a house.

Regarding my expectations for Budget 2015, hopefully they will reduce income tax; which will be welcome as it will mean I can take €100-150 extra take home pay. I also would like the USC to go – I think it’s just a waste of money and since they brought in I have had to give up my private health insurance.

Hopefully I will be able to add my wife’s tax credits to mine so as to ease the burden of tax I am paying. And I hope they reduce VAT, which will significantly reduce the amount we pay for daily household items like groceries.

Later tonight we will bring you the views of people from these categories:

1. A married homeowner

2. A person hoping to buy a house

3. A farmer

4. A young couple renting

5. A pensioner

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