Saturday 21 October 2017

Catherine Devine: Leo, what about the young people who 'get up early'?

Will this year's Budget have any real impact on Ireland's 20-somethings?

Independent.ie's Catherine Devine
Independent.ie's Catherine Devine
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The upcoming Budget looks set to confirm what we all already know; Ireland is no place for young people.

While the Government is to introduce a number of tax cuts, housing initiatives and increased social welfare benefits, it's unlikely that us 20-something-year-olds will see any change to our pockets.

Tax

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The first time I received a real paycheck, I anxiously opened it and waited to become Ireland's next millionaire.

My feelings of excitement and pride soon turned into disbelief and anger when I realised the amount of tax I would be paying for the rest of my life.

"Dad, surely there was a mistake, there is no way the Government get THAT much of my money?" I bellowed down the phone.

"It's not like we have fantastic roads, healthcare or infrastructure. I want my money back."

Young people today are paying huge amounts of tax, but we are completely forgotten about when it comes to tax reforms.

Surely we should be given some form of tax relief such as extra tax credits as we battle the rental market and repay student loans.

In the Budget 2018, new measures are to be introduced to help the 'squeezed middle' with tax cuts and tax band changes on the horizon.

Who are the 'squeezed middle'? Why are they more important than the rest of us?

The Government is set to change the tax band to benefit people on salaries over €33,800, but few people straight out of college are earning that amount of money, and so will see no benefit to the change in tax bands.

Leo and his team are again ignoring the young people who have not yet reached the higher tax bracket but are still paying a relatively high percentage of tax.

While we all hate the USC tax, the cut in USC is likely to mean just a minimal gain to people in their 20s.

Meanwhile, minimum wage is to rise by 30c to €9.55. This is still way below the living wage of €11.70.

It is clear the Irish Government has no interest in rewarding its young people who “get up early”.

Housing

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There are a number of new initiatives proposed in the Budget that are set to help the housing market.

Unsurprisingly, few, if any are set to help young people in Ireland.

The Government is expected to retain the Help to Buy and First-Time Buyers’ grant scheme, as well as providing further mortgage relief to households.

These initiatives are zero help to the young people who look set to remain locked into the rental market for the foreseeable future.

We no longer allow ourselves to dream about owning a home in the cities and the word mortgage has been removed from our vocabulary, it’s that far out of reach. We are looking at a housing market where prices are predicted to rise for the next ten years. It’s off to Canada with us if we want to be able to afford our own homes.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said that the Government is looking to develop apartment complexes for young professionals in an effort to reduce the cost of renting.

It is proposed that in the individual apartments, residents would have their own bedroom and en-suite, but would have communal kitchen and living-room facilities.

Is that the best the Government can do?

Throw us all in together like we're living on college campuses again?

Surely millennials should be given more supports to be able to rent private living spaces that are at least liveable?

For those of us even unluckier, many are still stuck living at home with their parents in order to escape the renting market.

Will the Irish Government do anything to help young people, or will we be again forgotten about in the housing crisis?

College fees

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One of the biggest expenses for young people is college fees, which have increased by 275pc since 2008 to €3,000.

It’s unlikely that any measures will be introduced to lower this cost. Free education in Ireland? Yeah right.

Fianna Fail is pushing for some measures to be introduced in order to lower the costs of education. This includes increasing the National Training Funding levy on employers via PRSI by 0.1pc, which would raise an additional €66m.

This would be on top of another €44m the party believes should be taken from Exchequer funding to increase grants to third-level institutions.

Are these measures a genuine effort to invest in education or are they just an appeasement for Fianna Fail in the upcoming budget?

It's unlikely that any of the money will be used to reduce college fees, but they could use the money to increase grants to universities.

As Irish universities continue to fall in international rankings, the extra income will be beneficial to increase third level infrastructure but it won't do much to make education more accessible.

Young people in Ireland want to be educated and they want to be able to lead their country well in the future.

After completing my undergrad degree, I'd love to do my postgrad, but even working full time, I can't afford to do so. Many people in their 20s would like to further their education but the Government isn't doing enough to make education accessible to young people.

Youth unemployment

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The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for persons aged 15-24 years in Ireland was 14.8pc in September (Stock image)
 

Some 15pc (28,500) of young people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed.

Fine Gael has previously indicated that it does not believe in raising one payment over another and an increase of €5 is being looked at across-the-board and is looking at a social welfare package being discussed by the Government could come to €450m.

However, it is understood that the Government is considering delaying the introduction of the hikes to mitigate the cost.

So the best millennials can look forward to is an extra fiver in their pockets every week, even those who are already on a much-reduced weekly payment.

Youth services

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As of July, 2,419 children and adolescents were waiting for a first appointment with mental health services and 6,000 for primary care psychology appointments (stock picture)
 

During the recession, youth programmes and services were the first to go when local councils attempted to reduce their annual spending.

Will the Budget allow any funds to bring back these vital services?

One in three young people suffer from mental health issues and will need to seek help at some stage in their lives.

In this year's Budget, there is expected to be a larger increase in mental health funding than last year – which means the allocated funding will be in excess of €25m.

This increase would certainly be welcomed by all.

Overall, it looks like millennials will again be the forgotten ones in this year's Budget and will continue to struggle in areas such as housing and finance.

The next time we decide to treat ourselves and order avocado toast, give us a break yeah?

Online Editors

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