Wednesday 18 October 2017

Your Budget: ‘We got a bit from most things we pushed for’

Pensioner - Bill Rothwell

Bill Rothwell, pictured at his Drimnagh home. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Bill Rothwell, pictured at his Drimnagh home. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

An increase of €5 to the State pension along with the reintroduction of a telephone allowance has left pensioner Bill Rothwell "fairly satisfied".

Mr Rothwell (84), from Drimnagh, Dublin 12, described Budget 2018 as an "even-stevens" attempt to look after most sectors.

The former Trinity College lecturer said there were very few surprises with most of what was presented well-documented in the weeks leading up to it.

"I'm fairly satisfied, it was really more or less what I had been expecting," he said.

"It's not great, but it's not bad - and we can't be greedy.

"Most of the things we presented an argument on, we got something from each of them."

Included in the Budget will be the reintroduction of the Christmas bonus.

This will be 85pc of the weekly social welfare payment.

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While an extra €5 has also been added, this will not be introduced for another six months.

"The Christmas one is a nice one, because it comes at a good time, particularly for us, because we would be buying presents for our grandchildren," Mr Rothwell, who has six grandchildren, explained.

"The €5 increase doesn't come in to effect until the end of March, so the cost of living will have increased by then with things like stamp duty."

Mr Rothwell was also happy that the free-travel for pensioners was not affected.

But he admitted he was disappointed the medical card means test was not altered.

Mr Rothwell has a State pension of €243 a week and a private pension of €1,400 a month.

But his State pension was reduced during the recession and it hasn't been increased since, while his medical card was also slashed.

"I'd like to have seen a change in the medical card, it's currently means tested on gross income - which has tax and USC to be taken away from it," he said.

"It should be based on net income. Pharmacy charges can be fairly expensive and at the age I'm at I would be paying for these things quite regularly."

The Budget also reduced prescription charges for medical card holders from €2.50 to €2.

Irish Independent

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