Illustrating the effects of spending cuts
Mícheál and Bríd are a couple in their fifties. Mícheál suffers from multiple sclerosis and Bríd cares for him full-time. Their adult son Uisneach moved back in with them when he lost his job in the construction sector at the start of the recession.
Accumulating the effects of the 2009 Supplementary Budget, Budget 2010 and Budget 2011, this household’s annual income has fallen by €3,372 or 9.8%. Like so many others with a disability Mícheál’s disability incurs costs for the household in terms of heating, clothing and day to day living expenses that are over and above those experienced by people without a disability. As a consequence the cuts have hit this household particularly hard. Mícheál’s independence, and his and Bríd’s quality of life is highly dependent on wider public services. Cuts to both mainstream and disability services are compounding the impact of this family’s falling income.
Mary is a lone parent living with her three year old son in an urban centre. She lost her job in a hotel at the start of the recession and now depends on the One Parent Family Payment. Accumulating the effects of the 2009 Supplementary Budget, Budget 2010 and Budget 2011, Mary’s income has been cut by €2,381 or 14.8%. Her income is now €33 below the weekly poverty line for her household type.
Peadar is 68. He lives alone in a rural setting and is dependent on the state pension (non-contributory) and an annuity of €10,000. There is a perception that older people have been relatively insulated from cuts over the past 3 years but this is not the case. Peadar has been plunged into relative poverty by the combined introduction of the carbon tax, the loss of the Christmas bonus (€230), cuts to dental and optical benefits, the loss of the free passport (€80), the increase of the drug payment scheme personal spending cap (€80 - €120 per month), the disappearance of his waste charges waiver (average of €100 per annum), the introduction of the Universal Social Charge (€200 per annum) and the new pension levy (potentially €900 per annum). As a result of the increased pressure on his income Peadar goes out less and has become isolated. In addition from September 2011 his bottled gas allowance has been cut by 20% from €40.70 to €32.70 and so he is increasingly fearful of the onset of winter in his poorly insulated home.
* Fuel allowance cut by Labour/Fine Gael government in September 2011
** Prescription charges were introduced in 2010
*** The supplement was phased out during 2009
Note: some of the above cases build on the work of The Poor Can’t Pay campaign published in early 2010