Hous­ing and child­care dom­i­nate Q&A

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - DO­MINIC COYLE

Hous­ing, wel­fare and child­care were the main is­sues pre­oc­cu­py­ing Ir­ish Times read­ers af­ter Bud­get 2019 when they con­tacted our post-bud­get on­line Q&A. But it wasn’t to the ex­clu­sion of a wide range of top­ics, with strong reader in­ter­est de­spite the ab­sence of sur­prises in the Min­is­ter’s bud­get speech.

Read­ers were try­ing to get a fix on how the var­i­ous hous­ing mea­sures an­nounced in the bud­get would af­fect prop­erty prices or rental rates in gen­eral, or on their prospects for be­ing able to buy a home.

The €310 mil­lion af­ford­able hous­ing scheme drew par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion though it is not likely to de­liver any homes un­til 2020 at the ear­li­est.

From the other side of the de­bate, land­lords were check­ing on how the new mort­gage in­ter­est ar­range­ments would work, and whether there were any other in­cen­tives to en­cour­age pri­vate sec­tor hous­ing sup­ply. There were none.

Peo­ple on dif­fer­ent wel­fare pay­ments, or pro rata pay­ments, wanted to make sure that the €5 weekly in­crease from March ap­plied to them. And they also wel­comed the full restora­tion of the Christ­mas bonus.

A change to the Work­ing Fam­ily Pay­ment (for­merly fam­ily in­come sup­ple­ment) that dis­re­gards some of the cost of hous­ing from the weekly in­come thresh­old should be good news for about 5,500 fam­i­lies.

Child­care, as al­ways, was a strong theme among the ques­tions, with many peo­ple try­ing to fig­ure out how the ad­di­tional fund­ing would be al­lo­cated and whether it was rel­e­vant to them.

Stu­dents

Third-level stu­dents were left won­der­ing if they had been for­got­ten al­to­gether with no spe­cific mea­sures put in place to make their lives eas­ier, or study­ing more af­ford­able.

Oth­ers were look­ing for de­tails of any fund­ing for col­leges them­selves or for back to ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes. Both will ben­e­fit from in­creased Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing but the de­tails are still un­clear.

There was plenty of in­ter­est from cur­rent and for­mer pub­lic ser­vants about pay and pen­sions but nei­ther was ad­dressed in the bud­get.

State pen­sion re­form also fea­tured, though, again, that was not a mat­ter for the bud­get, with Min­is­ter for Em­ploy­ment and So­cial Af­fairs Regina Do­herty pre­par­ing sep­a­rately to get in touch by the end of the month with 67,000 pen­sion­ers.

Some of the mea­sures that were the sub­ject of in­ten­sive kite-fly­ing ahead of the bud­get could still fea­ture in the Fi­nance Bill but we’ll have to wait till its pub­li­ca­tion next week to see if that is so.

And then there were the smok­ers, ful­mi­nat­ing about the lat­est 50 cent in­crease in the price of cig­a­rettes and won­der­ing what the Gov­ern­ment will do when it has taxed them into giv­ing up to­bacco.

With one in five peo­ple still smok­ing, that’s un­likely to be an im­me­di­ate con­cern for the Min­is­ter.

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