Sunday 4 December 2016

Give us increased tax credits and childcare breaks

The alarming widening gap between rich and poor in this country is a matter of Government choice

Published 16/02/2014 | 02:30

Carol Hunt with her son Oscar in Centra supermarket
Carol Hunt with her son Oscar in Centra supermarket

IT'S hardly surprising that the news went practically unnoticed. What with all the shenanigans down at GSOC HQ keeping us well entertained last week, we can hardly be blamed for failing to take much notice of a dreary statistical report published by the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI). But, in the big scheme of things, we may do well to sit up and take notice, because it affects all of us – rich, poor, gay, straight, garda and private citizen. The news that the fallout from our 2008 banking crash and consequent austerity drive has resulted in about half of all Irish households struggling to survive on less than €35,000 a year after paying income tax, PRSI and universal social charge is pretty dire.

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Or is it? An annual €35,000 wage averages out at about €673 per week. That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Be judicious when grocery shopping in the competing supermarkets or buying clothes in the big stores and sure, €673 a week to live on is quite a nice little sum, isn't it? I know quite a few households, mine included, who would be delighted to have that amount of cash to play with every week.

Except this figure isn't money we have left over to spend on fixing the washing machine, or replacing a clapped-out car. Because out of this sum has to come the cash for the rent or mortgage, property tax, energy bills, doctor and dentist bills and all the other costs of living, as opposed to merely existing.

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