Happy days are here again ? The 2016 Budget goodies, announced last October, kicked in on the 1st January – goodies that could mean an extra € 233 per month back into pockets for each family.
Families with young children and pensioners were the main beneficiaries of the Budget as the Coalition sought to soften up voters for the coming election.
The minimum wage went up from € 8.65 per hour to € 9.15 – a 50cent increase. Effectively, the measure will result in an improved living standard for 124,000 workers. In fairness to some employers – Lidl and Aldi to name but two – they have disregarded this increase, paying the “Living wage” instead of € 11.45 per hour, a more humane and realistic hourly wage so that employees can “live” – this is 25% MORE than the new minimum wage threshold.
The austerity Budgets of 2008 to 2013 saw family incomes hit by around 10pc, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) so one of the changes saw an increase to the Child Benefit. This will increase by €5 to €140 per month for each child from this month. Around 1.2 million children in more than half-a- million families are set to receive the higher payment.
Those with young families are also set to gain from the extension of the free pre-school year. This will work out at a gain of €1,500 from the free pre-school place for one child.
However not all on social welfare will benefit – those on Jobseeker’s Benefit and those on disability payments will not be getting increases, but many would see a slight rise in earnings.
Lower Universal Social Charge (USC) rates come into effect almost immediately. A single-earner family earning €55,000 will gain €920 from the reductions in USC and the rise in child benefit if they have two children.
Pensioners were also accommodated though not enough to warrant excitement… The Budget means €156 a year ( an extra € 3 per week ) more in the State Pension, plus pensioners also received a Christmas bonus of €173. A higher weekly fuel allowance is also due. Will the 677,000 recipients aged over 66 be happy ? Carers aged 66 and over also get the increase.
Finally, the scrapping of the pensions levy – 0.6% – will mean hundreds of thousands of private-sector workers and pensioners will be better off.