#Budget18 case study: €20 a month extra for ‘middle Ireland’ family

Lisa Kelly and her daughter Molly, 22 months, at home in Balbriggan. Picture: Moya Nolan

Lisa Kelly’s family is reflective of “middle Ireland”, with two salaries, a mortgage to service, and one child.

Yesterday’s budget will add approximately €20 a month to her family’s household, from universal social charge reductions and changes to income tax bands.

They will also benefit from the additional 15 weeks added to the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme.

“We have two PAYE salaries, between €35,000 and €45,000, in our house. We have a mortgage of approximately €1,300 per month and childcare of €800.

“Creche was going to cost us up to €1,150 a month and we couldn’t afford that. Instead, our daughter is in a home setting, like a home away from home and we have an amazing childminder four days a week and she spends one day a week with grandparents.

“I think instead of the Government giving €80 a month for children in creches, it would be better if they gave a tax credit to families where parents are working so that if children are with a childminder they don’t miss out. It would be better and fairer for all so that it is not just benefiting those whose children are minded in a registered creche,” said Lisa.

“Our monthly bills include the mortgage, childcare, bills like electricity, oil and gas, TV, phone, and health insurance. All of that would come to €1,500 approximately. We also receive the child benefit of €140 per month. I think an increase in the child benefit or some tax credit for parents not availing of registered childcare would have been helpful,” she added.

Instead, the Government announced an extension of the preschool ECCE scheme, which means Lisa’s daughter Molly (22 months) can avail of this at an earlier age. Lisa said she is delighted with the extra ECCE availability.

However, while glad of the €20 extra a month from tax band and USC changes, Lisa believes this money could be used elsewhere.

“The €20 extra per month in our income is welcomed. Although I would have forgone the extra €20 and I would have liked to see taxes perhaps remain the same and money ‘saved’ to go towards roads, infrastructure, and better healthcare provision, which would benefit us in the long run,” she said.

“I play a lot of sport like GAA with Man O’War GAA and rugby with Balbriggan RFC so I would need X-rays and physio throughout the year so perhaps increasing tax relief for those paying private healthcare would help.”

Overall Lisa says the cost of living is rising — this is what affects her household the most, making them “constantly mindful” of prices.

“We are constantly looking for ways to save money. It’s become part and parcel of our lives, like second nature, it’s not a chore,” she said.

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