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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 6°C
your stories

'Energy payments help, but how much will our bills go up?': Your response to Budget 2023

We asked our readers to share their responses to the budget. Here’s what they told us.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 28th 2022, 9:20 AM

BUDGET 2023 HAS been announced and given the number of leaks in recent days, there were few surprises.

The rising cost of living was the biggest challenge for the government this year after Covid-19 loomed large over the last two budgets.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath will be hoping Budget 2023′s suite of measures can keep the proverbial wolf from the door this winter.  

We asked The Journal readers to tell us their stories and share their thoughts on the budget. We asked if these measures would make any real difference to their lives.

Here’s what they had to say:

‘This budget brings us some relief’

Carl is 39 years old and lives in Dublin with his wife. They rent an apartment in the city centre. As a mature student, Carl says of the budget:

I will be hugely relieved to receive a discount of €1,000 on my fees. Tax credits for renting will also help us both.

Carl says he and his wife are trying to save “every penny” they have each month for the foreseeable future, but this budget will definitely bring some relief for them.  

‘This does nothing for me except for electricity bills’

One of our readers, Damien didn’t feel that Budget 2023 had made any material difference to his finances, except for the help with energy bills

It amounts to about an extra €3.60/week at a time when my shopping is €30-50 more a week than the same time last year. The cost of heating oil has at least doubled and the cost of petrol is still very high.

Damien works in the security sector and says he receives very little pay for working unsocial hours for “just slightly above the minimum wage”.

He feels that the government has forgotten workers on low pay this time around “as well as those who don’t qualify for any state supports”.

‘The first budget that will significantly help me’

One of the measures that have been widely welcomed in this budget is the 25% reduction in the cost of childcare under the National Childcare Scheme.

Chris is living in Dublin and is a parent of two small children who are still in creche. Reacting to the budget announcement, Chris told The Journal that Budget 2023 somehow feels like the first to make a difference to the lives of their family.

After almost 20 years of PAYE working, this feels like the first budget where it will significantly improve my finances. As working parents of 2 creche-going children, this budget will make the winter and 2023 a lot less stressful financially.

‘Nothing in this budget has any impact on my life’

One reader, who wished not to be named, said she and her partner were working full time and paying incredibly high rent to live in Ireland.

“We eat into our savings regularly to pay the bills. We’ve no kids, we just can’t afford them,” she told The Journal.

stressedyoungwomancalculatingmonthlyhomeexpensestaxbankaccount Shutterstock / kitzcorner Shutterstock / kitzcorner / kitzcorner

“I don’t have a car because that’s just too expensive. I also don’t qualify for the fuel allowance. I finished college over a decade ago so the assistance there means nothing to me.” In relation to the budget package, this reader said she felt the budget had forgotten them. 

A couple of credits, basically our own money back, just to make ends meet? I might as well grow a few ‘magic money trees’ myself and make some extra cash off the books, because this government doesn’t seem to want to help those who are legitimately working towards starting a family and owning their own home.

‘As a single working person, I’ll have less money in my pocket’

One reader told The Journal that they felt Budget 2023 had done very little for them as a single person. 
I have scrimped and saved for years and managed to get a mortgage during the last property crash, but the only increase I will see is due to the increase of the tax bands – €640 per year or €12.31 per week.

The reader feels that a change to tax bands will not make any major difference at such a time of cost of living increases.

“This will be much less than the increases in the costs of fuel, electricity, gas and the general cost of living even taking into account the electricity credit. Mortgage interest rate rises alone will negate any increase in income,” they told us.

As a single person, I receive no benefit from the announced school books charges, child benefit increase, rental tax credit, etc. It even costs more to kick back with a cigarette after working to pay taxes for all of the other giveaways. I can only wish for a Christmas bonus, never mind a double payment.

The reader feels that “Ireland has always been harsh for those who are not rich yet earn too much to qualify for assistance”.

miniaturebulbandcalculatoronwhiteboard Shutterstock Shutterstock

‘Why not pay for school books this year when we needed it?’

One reader, Ciaran told The Journal that although he and his family are “not struggling financially, there is no room for any extras, and that includes any breaks for either my kids or my wife and me”.

He says they’ve tightened their belts this year and that the next 12 months have to be taken into account when trying to save now. Ciaran doesn’t feel the budget did much by way of long-term supports.

So instead of looking around this time of year to start saving for Christmas, we are now trying to save all year round or buy throughout the year to get the best prices. Nothing in the budget has helped any of this.

Ciaran says in relation to heating and energy costs, his house is almost 50 years old with an extension from the mid 90′s so while it’s not the worst situation to be in, “we still rely heavily on solid fuels for heating as our insulation and energy efficiency are not the best but they’re too expensive to pay for improvements (even with the insulation grants)”.

While the €600 energy assistance will take €600 off our bills, who knows how much the cost of energy will rise next week? Bags of coal are €35, it takes one bag to heat the house along with a back boiler every two nights, that’s on top of paying a greater amount every week to heat the house.

Ciaran says his family pays for childcare, but privately, so any childcare assistance will not be of any use to him. He has welcomed the plans announced for the payment of school books for primary school children, however.

School books from next year will help, but surely they could have announced this before the budget so it helps NOW?

‘PhD students forgotten’ 

One budget measure announced to help students has been broadly welcomed. They will see a one-off €1,000 reduction in the student contribution as well as a 10-14% increase in the Susi grant from September.

femalestudenttakingnotesfromabookatlibrary-young Shutterstock / Jacob Lund Shutterstock / Jacob Lund / Jacob Lund

However, some PhD students are unhappy with the measures. One, Chris, told The Journal that the government has chosen to exclude people reading a PhD who are funded from sources other than the Irish Research Council (IRC) or Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), calling this a “hammer blow to many researchers”.

“Many internally funded PhDs have a staggered stipend depending on the University. I myself receive a €10k stipend and work part-time to make ends meet,” he told us.

Focusing on those, who are undoubtedly struggling, but still receiving some of the highest stipends in the country, while completely ignoring those with a more challenging financial situation is extremely disheartening. 

‘PhD students left out in the cold’

Another PhD student said they would receive an extra €500 this year under the new budget but that given they receive less than the minimum wage overall, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

“I currently receive a tax-free €18,500 stipend for the research I carry out (well below minimum wage even after tax). With this €500 stipend increase I will still be living on less than minimum wage for the work I carry out,” she told The Journal.

As my stipend is tax-free, I will not benefit from the €500 tax credit for renters. I will also not benefit from the €75 tax credit increase.

This reader also said they would not benefit from the much-welcomed energy credits announced for households:

My landlord receives my electricity bills in his name, then charges me for the number of electricity units used, not the cost of the bill. Therefore the 3 x €200 electricity credits will not be passed on to me, they will just go into my landlord’s pocket (this is what happened with the previous electricity credits earlier this year).

This reader feels that the government has not done enough this time around for those who wish to further their education and broaden their contribution to the field of academic research.

I have an undergraduate degree, a Higher Diploma, a Masters, and three years PhD research experience. I am a highly qualified scientific researcher, conducting research that benefits individuals, as well as educational institutions and “Irish Research”.

The reader also told The Journal that “being paid less than minimum wage under normal circumstances is bad enough, but in the context of a cost-of-living crisis, myself and my fellow PhD students are truly being left out in the cold”.


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