'We can't rely on Enda and Co to help families'
MOTHER-of-two Kate Carbery says the so-called economic upturn hasn't improved life for her.
From sky-high childcare costs to limited part-time work options for new mothers, Kate (39) said she would have expected "more opportunities for people like me by now".
Four and a half years ago, Kate (39), gave birth to her first child Elizabeth just as the financial crash gripped the country.
Despite promises from the Government, Kate, representative of many respondents to today's Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll, believes "nothing has changed since".
"I'm not seeing any difference over the last couple of years at all. I haven't seen any difference in our spending and we don't have any more spending money than we did before," she says.
Although the author and stay-at-home mum from Athy in Co Kildare concedes: "It's not getting any worse, things are the same, it's not getting any better."
The arrival of her second child, David, aged 16 months, has brought additional costs for Kate and her husband Simon, who runs a medical business.
But the Government are the last people she feels they can rely on for support in raising a young family.
"Childcare costs haven't changed at all, I haven't seen any difference between four and a half years ago and now, the costs are the same.
"You have to make it happen yourself - I don't get any help from the Government. I don't think about the future and say I'll get this grant or that allowance because I can't depend on any of that," she said. "All I can depend on is mine and my husband's ability to work hard and that's the only way we're doing it," she added.
Sky-high childcare costs and pressure to work full time, were issues raised to Kate by 40 new mothers during interviews for her latest book Becoming Mum.
"There is huge pressure on new mums to go back to work and options are very limited," said the former communications officer with an NGO in Dublin. "People have massive mortgages that they must pay, forcing them back to work with no flexibility," she said.
Although her family have been "lucky," they had to make choices and decide not to have certain things.
When it comes to paying the USC, Property Tax and Water Charges, she believes opposing them is a "waste of energy".
"It's just another thing I have to pay, I don't waste my energy giving out about it, I just try to find a way to do it," she said.
Looking ahead, she said families don't have the capacity to put away huge savings for their children's future.
"I guess that's on hold for a while until I go back to work and until our youngest is in school," she said.
As for the next election, Kate believes more change will only bring more costs. "The options for Government are so limited that I don't feel anyone is particularly better than the other, I've never been affected by a change in Government really.
"I've never seen anybody do anything for me."