Dear Working Mother

Last year’s budget returned little in the way of financial relief to families… I coined it the Indian Takeaway and Bottle of Wine budget.

So how did the working mother and families fare in Budget 2016?

On the run up to the budget, the minister for finance promised that the focus would be on generating employment, supporting families, the elderly and the most vulnerable in our society.

This is our second expansionary budget after seven years of austerity and thankfully offers a little respite to all.  I don’t think anyone will have substantially more in their pocket but it is positively spreading the benefits of our economic recovery across many struggling sectors.

Here are the budget changes that will impact working mothers and their families:

USC

The Universal Social Charge (USC) will be reduced.  The top rate of 7.5%, applied to workers who earn between €17,500 – €70,000, will be cut to 5.5% and the lower rates reduced to 3% and 1%.  The level at which employees begin paying the charge will increase from €12,012 to €13,000.

Child Benefit

Child benefit will increase by €5 to €140, resulting in a $60 increase per child.

Paternal Leave

Statutory paternity leave of two weeks has been agreed and will come into effect September 2016.

Childcare

Children will be eligible for free pre-school place from age of three until they start primary school (with three entry points – September, January and April).

Education

A total of 2,200 new teachers (including 600 resource teachers for children with special needs) will flow into the system this year, reducing the teacher/student ratio in primary schools to 27:1.

GP Care

Free GP care will be extended to all children under 12 years of age, subject to negotiations.

Housing

The revaluation date for the Local Property Tax has been postponed from 2016 to 2019.

Banking

The €5 stamp duty on debit cards has been replaced with a 12c charge per ATM transaction. This will be capped annually at between €2.50 and €5 depending on your card.  The transaction limit on contactless payment cards is being raised from €15 to €30 at the end of the month.

Social Protection

As of January 1st, the Minimum Wage will increase by 50c from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour.

Home Carer Tax Credit

This credit has increased by €190 to bring it up to €1,000 a year, in a bid to support single-income families. The income threshold up to which the carer can earn has also been increased by €2,120.

I do think this budget was pitched heavily in favour of middle income families which is a good thing.  I was very disappointed last year that more wasn’t done to help struggling families cope with the cost of childcare.  The introduction of the second pre-school year is widely welcomed.

With a €5 increase in monthly child benefit, free GP care for the under 12s and extra free pre-school childcare, this makes a significant impact on a family’s monthly outgoings.  We do have the general election coming up next year so I’m not overly surprised some much of the countries cash surplus was ploughed into families.

What do you think?  Have the government done a good job dividing the spoils and will you be voting to keep the existing team in place come election time?

Sincerely

Martina Perry
The Working Mother