News Charlie Weston

Sunday 31 August 2014

Charlie Weston: A garda earning €75,000 and living on cornflakes? It doesn't add up

Published 18/10/2012 | 12:00

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Charlie Weston

SOMETHING does not add up about the garda sergeant whose wife has written to Cabinet members claiming the family can't feed its children.

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The sergeant earns €75,000 a year when overtime and allowances are taken into account.

But his wife has written to politicians claiming the family has just €109 left a week after income tax, the universal social charge, pension, health insurance, mortgage and utility deductions have been taken out of the pay packet.

The letter explains how the family has a €1,400 monthly mortgage payment on a four-bedroom semi-detached family home bought seven years ago.

Repeated cuts to her husband's wages have left them "living a nightmare".

"There are weeks when I can't put food on the table. I call them 'cornflakes days' when all we eat all day is cornflakes," the letter from the wife claims (the husband did not want to be named, as he is a garda).

The woman wrote that even though her eldest child got enough points to go to a prestigious college, they couldn't afford the fees.

The plight of the family has been cited as an example of the financial difficulties of middle-income households.

But hold on a minute here. There is something not quite right about this.

Can a family grossing €75,000 really not afford to provide its children with a wholesome meal?

Finance experts calculated yesterday that earnings as high as that should leave a lot more to live on than €100 a week.

Some quick calculations indicate that even after pension, income tax and the universal social charge are taken out that the net pay should be €3,600 a month.

The monthly mortgage payments are indeed high but even after that is paid there should still be €2,200 left over which would allow a family to live comfortably, according to figures put together by accountants on the www.askaboutmoney.com website.

And others have questioned why a family that is forced to give its children cornflakes all day on some days is paying €75 a week for private health insurance.

As for the claim that the family can't send one of its children to college, it needs to be pointed out that 42pc of students are on a grant. The awarding of a grant, or a part grant, is based on a means test.

Now there could be other debts that the letter does not detail, but is defies belief that a family on €75,000, even with a big mortgage, is struggling to feed its children a decent meal.

Could it be that the letter is an elaborate attempt to ensure the gardai do not lose some of the 57 different allowances they get?

One has to wonder.

Irish Independent

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