Fianna Fail TD for Cork South Central and spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath says the Government’s inaction on policies to help the squeezed middle is impacting on people’s ability to save. A recent survey carried out by the ESRI for Nationwide UK (Ireland) has found a sharp increase in the number of people who can no longer afford to put money by because they don’t have any spare cash.
“The study reveals that those in the 36-50 age group are hardest hit. These are average Cork people with mortgages and families, who have been targeted on all levels by the Government. They’ve seen their take home pay reduced, the doubling of the Local Property Tax this year, rising energy bills, the reduction of tax relief on medical insurance for those who can afford it, an increase in third level fees, and the introduction of a raft of government fees and charges.
“This Government has brought in three regressive budgets since it came into office. There were ten tax increases announced in 2012, 20 in 2013 and a further 10 in Budget 2014. The last budget had four separate effective income tax increases, which included the reduction in medical insurance tax relief. This year will see the introduction of water charges, and to date no definite costings have been outlined, creating even more uncertainty about the amount of disposable income they’ll be left with.
“Many people in Cork city and County are struggling to make ends meet, and are no longer available to save for upcoming events or a rainy day. This survey found that 42% of people say they’re unable to put money aside, up from 36% at the start of the year. Even for those who are continuing to save, the Government has increased the amount of DIRT tax they’ll pay from 33% to 41%. People are being attacked from all sides, those who can save are being taxed, and the rest can’t afford to save because of the high income and stealth taxes that have been introduced by this Government.
“Ministers need to ease the burden on the squeezed middle. They’re bringing in tax after tax and ignoring people’s ability to pay. While the public finances must be stabilised, those who have borne the brunt of the adjustment over the past five years must be given a break”.