Mother-of-four Glynis Curtis has told how she has had her benefits cut by almost the same amount as the Taoiseach’s weekly wage.
The lone parent said she is already struggling to make ends meet, often walking out of supermarkets without essentials when she reaches her weekly budget.
“I feel like burying my head in the sand but I have to get up and get on with it,” she said.
“I’m don’t know how I’m going to keep my head above water.”
The 44-year-old survives on One Parent Family Payment of €301 a week, fuel allowance of €21 a week, monthly child benefit totalling €624, as well as maintenance from her ex-husband.
That will be cut by €70.33 a week when changes in all three payments come into force.
“That’s €3,567 a year, not taking into consideration the VAT and taxes,” she said.
“I sat down here and made myself feel worse by working what Enda Kenny gets a week. It’s €3,846.
Ms Curtis lives in Celbridge, Co Kildare, with Adam, 17, Louise, 14, Ryan, 11 and four-year-old Zoeann.
She refinanced the mortgage on the family home down to €500 a month after she separated from her husband in 2007. She was pregnant with Zoeann at the time and lost her well-paid job as a sales manager with a cosmetic company.
“Things were great with money coming in and then things went bad, 2007 is a bit of a blur,” she said.
Last December she was forced to sell her jewellery, including her wedding ring, to pay for Christmas.
The part-time psychotherapy student said she would be lost without the support of One Family, and her mother who paid her first year college fees.
She is dreading tomorrow’s tax Budget – fearing a property tax and a jump in petrol and car tax.
Ms Curtis said the family’s only luxury – Sky TV, which costs €78 a month – will be next to go.
“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t go out,” added Ms Curtis. “That’s my only entertainment and the kids’ entertainment.
“I don’t buy brand products. I go around the supermarket with my calculator on my phone and when I get to a certain amount I don’t go down the next aisle.
“Sometimes when the children ask me for a euro I have to tell them I haven’t got a euro.”
Ms Curtis is relieved they escaped threatened hikes on the medical card prescriptions.
She suffers from arthritis, blood pressure problems and infections in her only kidney, while her teenage daughter has an inhaler for asthma.
But the struggling mother revealed next year is an expensive one for her family - with Adam sitting his Leaving Cert and starting college, Louise taking her Junior Certificate, Ryan celebrating his confirmation and starting secondary school and Zoeann beginning primary school.
The age limit for One Parent Family Payment will be cut to 12 years in 2012, 10 in 2013 and just seven in 2014, while child benefit will be slashed for the third and subsequent children.
Fuel allowance will only be given out for the coldest six months of the year, down from 32 weeks.
The One Family charity maintained Ireland’s poorest families, particularly those parenting alone, have been abandoned by the Budget.
Stuart Duffin, welfare to work manager, said: “One-parent family households are already four times more likely to live in poverty.
“Today’s many cuts, coupled with the fact that there is no provision of services or supports to help lone parents get back into education or training, will have a devastating effect on one-parent families.”