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Friday 13 December 2019

A dozen harsh hits in our six long years of austerity

Finance Minister Michael Noonan at the announcement of Budget 2015 at Government Buildings. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Finance Minister Michael Noonan at the announcement of Budget 2015 at Government Buildings. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

PARENTS have lost a string of State payments and faced a range of higher charges since the financial crash six years ago. Here are 12 financial hits families with younger children have taken.

Child benefit

There have been successive cuts in the universal payment made to families with children. Back in 2008 the monthly amount for two children was €320. It is now €260, which means a two-child family is down €720 a year. The rate is to go up by €5 a child from next year.

Early childcare supplement

The Government scrapped the €1,000 a year Early Childcare Supplement by the end of 2009. The payment, introduced in Budget 2006 to ease childcare costs, consisted of a €1,000 yearly payment for each child up to the age of six.

Homecarers' credit

This tax break has gone down to €810 since 2008. It is available to married couples or civil partners where one of the couple cares for children in the home or other dependent people.

Drugs payment scheme

Families that use a lot of medicines have seen this scheme restricted. Under the Drugs Payment Scheme you have to pay a maximum of €144 a month for prescribed drugs and medicines. Back in 2008 the State paid the bill when it went over €120 a month.

Medical insurance tax break

Families were hit hard by the decision in last year's Budget to restrict the tax break on health insurance premiums to €1,000 a year for adults and €500 for children. This pushed up the cost of health cover. The move impacts almost two million people.

Medical expenses

Back before the economic crash families were able to claim back 41pc of the cost of GP visits medicines from the Revenue Commissioners, once a certain threshold was met. Now only 20pc of the cost can be claimed.

Mortgage interest relief

Before the economy blew up in 2008 most of those with a mortgage got tax relief on their interest payments. That ended for most in May 2009. This means a couple with a big mortgage lost €900 for a full year.

The Government did provide relief for first-time buyers for seven years for those who bought up to the end of last year. And boom buyers, who purchased between 2004 and 2008, got extra tax relief.

One-parent family tax credit

The credit was replaced with a system that means it is now only available to the primary carer of a child, and not both parents who share custody.

Back-to-school allowance

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance has also taken a hit with the payment down one-third from €150 to €100 for primary school children aged four to 11, and from €250 to €200 for secondary school students aged 12 to 17.

Maternity benefit

The minimum and maximum rates were set at €230. This means many mothers have seen a cut of more than €800 in maternity benefit. And up to last year women did not have to pay any tax on the maternity benefit payments they get for six months after the birth of their child. But from July 2013 they have to hand back up to €2,700 to the Revenue because the payments have been taxed at up to 41pc from that date.

School transport

The cost went up to €100 per pupil for primary school pupils, to a maximum of €220 per family.

For secondary-school pupils the charge is €350 per pupil, with a maximum per family of €650.

Tax reliefs

The tax relief on bin charges and trade union subscriptions have been abolished.

Irish Independent

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