| 19°C Dublin

'I was shocked, I feel sorry for families -- this is beyond them'

"The universal social charge means I am net out of pocket €30 a week. Both myself and my husband Jim (working as a chef 30 hours a week) are from Fianna Fail backgrounds, but never again. With pay cuts and hour reductions in the past two years, we've had to tighten belts. In December, I got rid of the Telecom land line and reduced health cover.

We used to eat out once a week as a family but not anymore. I bring sandwiches into work. I drive a 1995 fiesta car and with the Greens introducing a yearly NCT and our test in May, I will be in real trouble if the car fails. We were told to tighten our belts, and did so dutifully, if we tighten any more, we will suffocate. We, the middle man, are being fleeced -- so much so we now consider we may even be better off if one of us at least wasn't working -- the incentive to work is gone, is that the purpose of the cuts? For me it seems so. My husband has chronic illness so we pay €110 for drugs monthly. A medical card would be a Lotto win for us."

"January 2011 started in despair for the many workers who opened their pay packets with a stark realisation of a further savage reduction in their take-home pay resulting from the new USC. This will have a devastating effect on family resources, for myself and my partner.

"It will mean a loss of €350 per month from the family budget. We have a four-month-old child and will shortly be looking for childcare facilities which will be an added expense."

"The introduction of the universal social charge reduced my weekly take-home pay by a further €26.42. Since 2008, the average weekly take-home wage for an operational garda has dropped by around €150. This is particularly worrying; I took on a mortgage in 2006 to buy a family home, based on my income at that time. I never expected to have my pay cut, there were pay increases agreed and my mortgage broker took those into consideration.

"I see an uncertain future, and this is a distraction from the work we do. Our workload continues to increase, as fewer gardai protect an increasingly threatened society. I didn't expect to be rich in my chosen career, but I thought I would be rewarded for the personal dangers we face every day we go to work."

"Working as a part-time teacher, my pay cheques are hardly the thing of envy but upon opening my January payslip I was in shock! My net pay was down almost €500. Now don't get me wrong, since the Budget I knew cuts were on the cards; but €500 in a month is a real shock.

"What's really heart-wrenching is that my PAYE is almost the same as a week's wages and I'm paying €260 in the universal social charge. As I'm not a permanent teacher, I don't get paid for my holidays and I'm really worried how I'm going to be able to budget and put money aside to save for the summer. But on the positive side, thank god I don't have a mortgage or a family to feed and I honestly dread to think what an impact this is having on some families. At the end of the day there are always people worse off then you."

"Budget 2011 will cost me over €70 a month. It is not just the USC which will decrease my net pay but also the reduced tax credits and standard-rate cut-off point. I am so angry to be paying for other people's mistakes.

"Our generation were, by and large, too young to have seriously benefited from the boom years, yet we will be the ones left bailing the country out for the rest of our working lives. Given the levels of debt that the country is in, it will be a long time before we get back to the vote-buying Budgets of the past."

"I am very upset with the new USC. I got a real shock when I looked at my payslip as I am earning €90 less a month. For someone that is not on a high salary this is affecting me hugely as I have to pay a mortgage and before this charge I was scraping to get by a month. This is going to make life very difficult for me.

"At least I'm lucky not to have any children to support as many other people have to do, I feel sorry for these families as I know this would be beyond possible if I was is their position. What they are trying to do to us, I just don't know. I have no choice but to stay here and battle on."

Sunday Independent