Budget blows kick in for young and old

There’ll be no New Year’s cheer for the young, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly who face a series of Budget 2014 cutbacks that come into effect from today — on top of the doubling of Property Tax and the introduction of water charges.

Measures contained in the €2.5bn budget adjustment will also hit those who have planned for their futures with a significant hike in tax on savings and an increased pension levy also coming into effect.

From today Dirt tax on savings will increase from 33% to 41% and with PRSI applying on savings for employees with non-PAYE income of €3,174 — almost half of any interest earned from savings will now be handed over to Revenue.

Stamp duty on pensions will increase from 0.6% to 0.75% despite promises from the Government it would be abolished in 2014. It is to be reduced to 0.15% in 2015. Among the first to suffer from social welfare cuts will be young people facing the dole.

From today new entrants aged between 18 to 24 will be expected to survive on €100 a week while those aged 25 will receive €144 per week. The move was designed to encourage young people to take up employment, but many groups say there is not a sufficient number of jobs available and some will be forced to emigrate.

Tens of thousands of mothers-to-be will see maternity benefit cut by €32 per to €230, while from next week employers will be expected to pay for the first six days an employee is sick as illness benefit will only be paid after six days, before it kicked in after three days.

Child benefit will be reduced by €10 for the fourth and subsequent child as a rate of €130 per child was announced back in Dec 2012 but is only implemented from today.

Invalidity pensioners who reach their 65th birthday from today will also received a reduced payment of €193.50 per week, almost €38 less than those over 65 who will continue to receive €230.30.

From today the telephone allowance worth €114 per year will be completely scrapped, affecting over 300,000 people, including 30,000 carers and 56,000 disabled people who were receiving it.

Likewise the bereavement grant of €850 to help families with the cost of funerals is also abolished from today.

The elderly will also lose around 35,000 medical cards and move onto GP-only cards as the income limits for those aged over 70 will reduce from €600/€1,200 per week (single person/couple) to €500/ €900 per week.

Those with medical cards, totalling around 1.8 million, already saw prescription charges increase last month from €1.50 to €2.50 per item up to a maximum of €25 per month.

Likewise in the first few months of the New Year a majority of two million people who have private health insurance will renew their policies and they face an average of €330 extra per family because of new threshold limits introduced in October.

Students face a €250 increase in registration Fees for college as they rise to €2,750 and will reach €3,000 for the 2015/2016.

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