Tara is a lone parent with two children aged 7 and 10.
She is studying for a Psychology degree and receives the Back to Education Allowance at a rate of €288 per week (€208 personal rate, and 2 x €40 for her children).
As a result of Budget 2023, in the New Year she will see her weekly income increase to €304 per week (€220 personal rate, and 2 x €42 for her children). However, as the cost of living will have risen by 8.5% in 2022, she would have needed her income to rise to €312.48 to stand still – effectively, she will be €8.48 worse off per week.
As she is studying part-time she doesn’t receive a SUSI grant and so has to rely on a credit union loan. Next year, she is pleased her student contribution will be lower but she will still have to borrow to get by as SUSI eligibility wasn’t extended to part-time students.
She was pleased that there will now be no charges for school books for her children while they are in primary school, but the extra €100 she received through the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance last year won’t be repeated this year, and back to school costs – even the ‘Voluntary’ ones, will be a stress throughout summer.
As she receives the Fuel Allowance she will get an additional payment of €400 late this year (although after this, her FA payment will be the same as last year’s levels) and she will receive the three electricity credits of €200 that every household will receive. She will also get a double social welfare payment, and a double child benefit payment. These measures will all help her to deal with the high bills that come in for her heating throughout the winter and address some of the debts she accumulated so far in 2022.
However, Tara is concerned that this will all get eaten up by the utility bills before Christmas, and in the new year she will still be struggling with the extra money going out on heating at the beginning of the year, the higher weekly food shop and higher cost of fuel for the car. SVP calls for social welfare payments to be benchmarked against what it costs to have a decent standard of living in Ireland, so that people do not have to cut back on essentials to get by.