There was always going to be a sucker punch for most of us on Wednesday, when Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin did their double act in the Dáil. But unlike Vaudeville double acts of Abbot and Costelloe, Burns and Allen, or later comedy double acts like Fry and Laurie, no-one was looking forward to Wednesday afternoon’s matinée showing in the Dáil chamber.
The old reliables of alcohol and tobacco were hit, the increase of a euro on the price of a bottle of wine dominated a lot of the discussion across the social media platforms.
But the real effect will be felt where the money is taken direct from your hand before you even get it. The change in the PRSI contributions will see all those earning over €352 (€18,304 a year ) per week have their PRSI allowance scrapped, seeing them having to pay out an extra €264.14 on PRSI payments, before they get to take anything home from their hard earned wage. That €264.14 less is going to be felt a lot more by those at the bottom level of wage bracket than the someone on €250,000 who will only see the same €264.16 PRSI increase.
€264.14 for a single person would be a couple of weeks’ shopping, more than a few weeks’ rent, it’s just less than the car tax for the year for a 1.1ltr petrol car, it’s this year’s increase in the registration charges for third level students. These are the real things that people are going to have to find, money from an ever shrinking pot to pay for just the ordinary things in life, necessities, not luxuries. While the term that someone can claim jobseekers benefit, someone who has paid and will pay the increased PRSI contributions, has been cut from 12 months to nine months should the find themselves unemployed, has been rolled into this week’s Budget to give another kick to people on the way down.
But we will have to deal with cuts across the board across all society this winter, €10 off the child benefit, €325 cut in the respite care grant for carers from a meagre €1,700 to €1,375 per annaum. These cuts are going to further hinder an already struggling group of people, people who are trying to do their best in very tough times and under tough circumstances.
These are only a small number of things people are going to have to deal with, never mind the property tax, which is going to come into full swing next year, and the lurking spectre of water charges down the road.
It wasn’t just the cuts in the Budget on Wednesday that are going to be felt. The announcement of the closure of six more Garda stations in the county, on top of the four that were closed last year, is going to have a devastating effect on communities around the county. A station, even if it was only open for a few hours a day, offered local people peace of mind in rural areas, especially the elderly. We live in one of the largest rural counties in the country and people are afraid for their safety, especially following a number of break-ins across the county recently. These closures are only going to add to people’s concerns and fears.
This year, maybe it’s a cut to far the people, who cannot and will not take much more of these cuts.