Friday 18 October 2019

Budget 2020: 'I've had to sacrifice my social life; I get depressed and lonely'- social welfare allowance recipient

Andrew Cashman
Photo By Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD
Andrew Cashman Photo By Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

A MAN has said that the social welfare allowance is too low to live on and socialise, which he says has left him feeling isolated and taken a toll on his mental health.

Andrew Cashman (53), from Tralee in Co Kerry, has said that he no longer sees his friends as he can't afford to do things with them and he also worries that it could affect his chances of getting married.

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Mr Cashman was caring for his beloved mother up until her death several years ago and is now receiving Jobseeker's Allowance.

"It's very difficult to get by. I'll tell you the truth, I do my best and I try to keep up with all of the business but I've had to sacrifice my social life, I've none what so ever," he said.

"I go from Monday to Monday without seeing a person because everyone knows, there is no way you can go and meet people free of charge.

"Since my mother passed away really, I have lost all of my friends because they're all out enjoying themselves and I don't get invited anymore anyway because they know that I don't have the money to go out.

"I live alone, I'm always by myself. I do get depressed and I do get lonely and even now if I enjoy a bottle of wine once a month, the government is even trying to make that harder by increasing the price of wine.

"I could sit here and watch a movie and drink some wine for €6.50 but now the price will be going up to €9.50, so they're trying to even dictate what people are doing at home.

"You can't get married if you can't socialise."

There has been speculation that the social welfare allowance will be increased by €5 per week in Budget 2020, which Andrew worries will be negated by an increase in other living expenses.

"No way will a €5 increase help. They come out with this but they'll put it back to March. So, everything goes up the day after budget, absolutely everything goes up, so you're waiting five months and it's actually harder. They have put it back to March and they're never going to bring it back to  January again because it's there now and they think no one will talk about it so they might as well leave it there.

"Also, during the recession, they took six weeks fuel allowance off everybody who is on it and they've never paid it back. That's €130 - and the fiver a week - where's that going to go? Everything has gone up in the past and now they're going to go up more.

"I have to run a car and I have to heat my house. I only use an open fire. I wouldn't be able to afford oil - that would be crazy. I burn coal and briquettes.

"If we got a really cold winter, I wouldn't be able to put on a fire at three or four o'clock, I'd have to sit here in a body warmer. The time we got the bad winter I had to start burning things around the house and breaking things up. It's a miserable way to live.

"My house is an old house. I'm not costing the government anything on rent because I was given the house but it really needs renovation. It's only livable for me because I put up with it, but it's not really."

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