With the big fat Brexit countdown clock ominously ticking down to the October 31st deadline, the other big 'B' of the month, indeed year, has gone somewhat under the radar.
Budget 2020 or the Brexit Budget is suddenly upon us and it appears the government is almost as surprised by its arrival as the rest of us if the whisperings of overspending and ‘anomalies’ like an underestimation of the cost of parental leave are to be believed. Sure, you’ve only had a year to prepare lads.
So, as Paschal frantically thumps his Casio calculator for the next few hours in a last minute bid to balance the books, here are a few things the rest of us will likely hear on our commute…
We love to drop this one at every opportunity, teamed with a cute hoor of a smirk. It is employed in many situations; queues for the till at Smyths, Room to Improve budgets, rush hour traffic, Twitter photos of receipts for pints costing €7.70, and the inability to get a plumber, any plumber, to return a call.
It applies to Budget 2020 in so far as Ireland is, on paper, booming. Sure we’re one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and we’ll have a surplus of €600m in this budget, the biggest in 10 years!
Unfortunately, the aforementioned surplus may well be obliterated by a no deal Brexit. The government will, in that case, have to borrow upwards of €5bn next year. So, not a whole lot to go around after all.
Well, no. Plans to put €500m in a Rainy Day Fund have been abandoned on the grounds that we would have to borrow the money.
The government keeps slapping on excise duty in an effort to help you ditch the habit and every time they do you vow you won't allow them to rip you off any more and shout about how you used to be able to buy a box of Benson for 5p. Alcohol will escape a rise this year, however, ostensibly because an increase could apparently encourage smuggling across the border after Brexit. More likely, it would just prove too unpopular. If ever we needed a tipple it’s now, with just 23 days to go until armageddon.
LOLS. If you’re a first time buyer, Fianna Fáil is fighting for a retention and extension of the first time buyers grant but Fine Gael says it's too expensive and is seeking changes.
If you’re not a first-time buyer you’re unlikely to be a buyer at all, unless you’ve managed to scrimp, save or pilfer a deposit of 20 per cent of €445,120 (the average price of a house in Dublin in the first half of 2019) while also, most likely, shelling out more than €2000 a month in rent (the average cost of rent in the capital). I’m no mathematician but those figures don’t = happy house-hunting.
We all care about climate change, until we realise our pockets are going to take a battering, albeit in small increments over time in the hope that we don't really notice. Fine Gael plans to increase the price of carbon from €20 today to €80 per tonne by 2030. This budget will see it increase by around €6 or €7. That translates into 2 cent on a litre of petrol or diesel and an increase of around €15 on a tank of home heating oil. Ouch.
We are liars.
Indeed there are many, many issues. There are always many, many issues. Never are they more apparent than on Budget Day.
There won’t be any windfalls for anyone today. And will any of it really matter in three weeks' time?