Increased funding for childcare was generally welcomed on the rain-sodden streets of Cork post-budget, although concerns were raised about whether a €12 increase in social welfare was enough.
Mary Cummins broadly welcomed changes like a €600 fuel credit for all households and an increase in eligibility for the fuel allowance but questioned whether they were the best ways to tackle fuel poverty.
"It would be better to lower unit pricing,” Ms Cummins said.
“It would also have been good to lower the Vat rate on energy.
“Fuel is up, the cost of groceries is up. I welcome the increase in fuel allowance [a €400 lump sum is to be given by Christmas] and the increase of €12 for social welfare payments but I wonder, is it enough?”
Jack Kenefick was with his daughter Sophia-May on Patrick Street.
He welcomed the €121m scheme to reduce childcare costs by up to 25% (up to €171 per month) from January, although it does not impact him directly.
“Childcare is a good government investment, they get it back in taxes from working parents anyway,” he said.
Regarding the €600 electricity credit for all households with the first instalment due before Christmas, he said: “People need the money now.
He welcomed Government efforts to save, with €2bn going to the National Reserve ‘Rainy Day’ Fund, and another €4bn in 2023.
“The rainy day fund ran out over Covid. The last few years have really shown that we never know what’s ahead of us.
Hazel Cronin also welcomed increased funding for childcare and free school books for primary school children.
But she said that the real expense for parents kicks in at secondary school level and little seemed to be being done to tackle costs there.
She broadly welcomed an additional 296 post-primary teachers [just to meet demographic pressures] and an additional 686 special needs assistants as positive in a €9.6bn education budget.
But a €12 weekly increase in social welfare payments seemed "very little", she said.
Students Dillon Duggan and Tom Dooley welcomed measures to decrease third level education fees and to increase and extend eligibility for the SUSI student grant.
“It’s definitely necessary. There’s too much stress on people our age," Tom Dooley, who is studying engineering in UCC, said.
“Costs are a barrier for a lot of people [to access third level education].
“Accommodation is a big problem for students as well. But that’s not even included,” Dillon Duggan, who is studying biological sciences in Munster Technological University, said.
New house building targets were too late to help current students struggling to find somewhere to live while a €1,000 credit for renters was of no use to people who could not find somewhere to rent.
“There are people going to college from four counties away who have nowhere to live," Tom said.
They both welcomed the 50c increase in excise on cigarettes as a positive health measure.
A €87m fund to retrofit social housing in 2023 was also welcome news, as increasing energy efficiency and cutting our carbon footprint is “better late than never.”