Monday 24 October 2016

Spring statement: Did the message hit home for you?

Published 29/04/2015 | 02:30

Single mother: Andrea Galgey with her son Erroll
Single mother: Andrea Galgey with her son Erroll
Farming Family: Brian and Norma Rohan pictured on their farm in Co. Laois with their kids Julie aged two and half, Emily aged one and a half
Emigrant: Daniel Costelloe and Laura Guinane his girlfriend
Pensioner: Ellen Reddin, who is 75

The Spring Statement promised to signal an end to Ireland's "lost decade", which saw tens of thousands lose their jobs or forced to leave the country. But did the message presented by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin hit home?

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We asked four of those likely to be impacted by the Spring Statement whether the economic recovery had affected them, and whether the Government message had them convinced.

Single mother: 'They aren't creating jobs that actually provide a living wage'

Andrea Galgey (42) from Tramore in Co Waterford is a single parent who lives in a council house and supports three children: Phillip (16), Jamie (14) and Erroll (9).

She works part time as an IT tutor in Ballybeg , attends college in Waterford IT, and is on the Family Income Supplement (FIS).

She said that the Government's Spring Statement didn't take into account that many of the two million 'employed' people were on other welfare schemes or internships.

"I think their statement is very ambitious, even if they do put people back to work , most of the jobs nowadays are part-time, or involve zero hour contracts, or schemes like Tus or JobBridge", she said.

"They aren't actually talking about providing a living wage for parents. There are an awful lot of people like me on FIS and that are not earning enough.

"First of all, there aren't enough full-time jobs out there.

"Parents are struggling to pay for childcare and this is the biggest impediment for people improving their lives", she said.

She said she believed that low income families such as herself were the most "badly affected" group in the country and that mortgages were too high.

"They said that they needed to make cuts when they came into power but when I make cuts, I cut out the luxuries," she added.

"I don't cut out the bread and milk, but that's exactly what they did."

She said that the proposed tax cuts won't affect her, as she continues to work below the first tax bracket.

Ms Galgey hopes to find a full-time job when she gets her degree this year.

Farming family 'can see the recovery'

Brian Rohen (39) and his wife Norma are a farming family working out of Anngove farm in Shanahoe, Co Laois.

They have two children, Julie (2) and Emily (1).

Mr Rohen spoke positively about the statement and the state of the economy, saying that "people can see the recovery".

"I heard them saying that they intend on getting back the full bailout money given to the banks which sounds good," he said.

"In fairness to Government, it needed to be done."

He said his biggest concern was that he didn't know his income year on year, and that he hoped the next Budget would be as "farmer friendly" as the last.

"I would welcome a tax cut," Mr Rohen said of the potential cuts to USC next year.

"I suppose the way I would look at it would be like farming, you have good years, you have average years and you will have bad years.

"But overall if you look at it over a 10-year period, you didn't actually do too badly."

Emigrant: 'I won't be coming back any time soon'

Daniel Costelloe (24) left Ireland when the medical device company he worked for in Limerick closed.

"Emigration was always something I'd thought about - not just for economic reasons but because I wanted the life experience also," he says.

However, he believes the Government has not done enough in the Spring Statement to entice young people home.

"Ireland's tax rates and cost of living aren't too high. However, I certainly wouldn't be able to afford my Australian lifestyle on an Irish income.

"In Ireland, I was surviving week to week. From what I've heard from today's Spring Statement, that's not going to change any time soon.

"In Australia, I can afford to rent my own house, I own my car, I can afford to do something every weekend while still saving a lot of my wages. The cost of living in Australia is pretty high but the wages reflect this and I am paid well...So there is no desire to return."

Penisoner: 'A whitewash aimed at wooing voters'

Ellen Reddin described the Government's Spring Statement as a "whitewash", aimed solely at wooing potential voters ahead of the next general election.

The 75-year-old from Ballymun, north Dublin, said she would have liked guarantees from Michael Noonan that the old-age pension would be ringfenced in the next Budget.

"He didn't mention the pension at the moment is merely a survivor's pension," she said.

"We're only barely able to survive on it.

"I receive €238 a week, but there are people out there living on a pittance.

"They talked a lot about what they aspire to do if people vote for them - but it lacked detail.

"He didn't say anything of note," she added.

"And if they privatise some of the bus routes, what will happen to my bus pass?

"He didn't reassure the elderly - we still have the same fears as before."

Irish Independent

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