As one of the many parents with too much monthly salary at the end of the paycheck, I put together my own pre-budget submission.
A fantasy budget (granted, the calculations are shaky) might seem unviable, but these suggestions would soften the blow to the squashed middle with kids.
Sessions are about to begin to finally finalize September’s bonanza budget, and if I had the ears of Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Secretary Michael McGrath, I would whisper the following to them.
The standalone emergency living expenses budget is estimated at €1.5 billion, but I’d say if they can get bigger, do it. Don’t put away money for a rainy day. We’re broke now and worried.
There is talk of a double payment of child benefit before Christmas. Excellent. But I think: double. Give parents an instant bonus at the end of September and one for Christmas. So that’s €280 per child over the next month and December to ensure Santa can spirally deliver the bills and to top up household coffers after back-to-school costs.
But September isn’t just about coughing up for school shoes (more on that later), it’s also when activities for kids pick up again.
Targeted help for those who will not be able to light the heater or buy groceries is a priority, but it depends on how you define poverty.
In my opinion, the relative poverty is also very harmful: not being able to send the children to physical education classes, which they have been doing with friends for years; not being able to keep swimming lessons (if you can find one) for your five year old.
It’s the stress of money needed for trips out with friends, and for the many middle-income families who send their kids to private schools and don’t want to turn their lives upside down by moving — those bills are falling in the door now .
With wages not keeping pace with costs, parents need more money — fast — to cover expenses, and double pocket money would soften the blow.
Could we also increase the monthly child benefit to 150 euros in the normal budget bit – 6.7 billion euros? Charities say pensions need to rise by more than €20 a week to keep up with inflation, so a €10 increase is probably not enough; make it 20€.
A double child benefit would cost around 170 million euros. So that’s 340 million euros for the two payouts. Increased by a tenner for the 1.2 million children for whom it is paid, that is 144 million euros for the year.
It’s pricey, but it will ensure that, with supermarket prices soaring, there’s wiggle room when it comes time to register for the speech and drama.
A second installment of the €200 electricity loan is likely, but they should double it to €400 as families will find it difficult to make ad hoc payments – like buying new sports equipment for their children or repairing the dishwasher manage when they get hammered with energy bills.
A mate just sent a picture of her latest bill from Bord Gáis: €167 up from €24 last year. Insanity.
Grant real-time tax credits for crib payments. Increase the early childhood care and education program from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. But not every family wants childcare before this program begins at age three. Some parents want to stay at home with their children, although the tax regime has favored two incomes since 2000.
Charlie McCreevy then introduced the individualized tax approach, which made it much harder for a parent not to work. This is not the best option for all families.
Our primary schools are also only open for four hours and 40 minutes in the first two years. It can make sense for parents to take some time off, so reclaim the opportunity to give your partner your full tax credits.
Rent and mortgage interest relief
Really needed. My family spends almost 40 percent of our income on rent. Few families receive historic mortgage interest relief.
Budget to make the primary tag longer
Give schools a budget for extracurricular activities on a use it or lose it basis. This would help teachers who want to get involved earn extra money – and enable activities for children whose parents are broke.
Can we immediately reallocate the infrastructure spending to building many more pools? We now have fewer than 400 swimming pools – grossly inadequate – and we need to make them affordable so that every child can learn to swim.
school books and shoes
Estimates are 12 million euros to make books in secondary school free. The Ministry of Education gives primary schools around €17 million, which cuts costs but bites the bullet and makes them free.
Scrap bins from all shoe sizes. Many children have larger feet than the tax-free allotment up to size five and a half. And clothes too?
It’s hard to have an overview without knowing at what level it would kick in, but it feels complicated – and doesn’t it leave a huge hole in the budget that will break the services we rely on? Why not allow more income taxed at 20 percent?
That’s €1,500, but for families wanting to buy an eCargo bike to ride their young kids around, that’s not even half. Increase or change it so parents can pool the credit. And extend it to self-employed.
The recently discounted rates are great. If they went down any further, more families would make the extra effort to use them.
With inflation eating away at living standards, I think we really need to do as much as we can about the kids this budget day.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/if-the-budget-were-up-to-me-id-put-kids-first-and-soften-the-blow-of-rising-inflation-41919451.html If I had my way, I would put the kids first and soften the blow of rising inflation