The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) is concerned that a large number of families who seek its support will be further disadvantaged by many elements of Budget 2012.
The cumulative changes in areas of Rent Supplement, the winter Fuel Allowance, Drugs Payment Scheme, the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the One Parent Family Payment and changes in the cost of school transport and student maintenance grants, will have a huge impact on their ability to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
The groups which will be most adversely affected by Budget 2012 are families with school-going children, one parent families, families on social welfare or in work on low pay in private rented accommodation and households already struggling to pay energy bills.
The SVP is also concerned that the VAT increase from 21% to 23% will further add to the financial difficulties experienced by these groups. VAT at this rate applies to everyday household goods and services including: Adult clothing and shoes; Household electrical appliances; Telephone; Petrol, diesel, LPG . The latter category will affect lower income rural dwellers especially.
While the retention of the universality of Child Benefit is welcome the reduction in the payment for the third and subsequent children will add to the cumulative income pressure on larger families.
The SVP welcomes the fact that basic social welfare rates are being maintained. It also welcomes the changes to the Universal Social Charge for low paid, part time and seasonal workers. Up to now those earning over €4,004 were subject to the charge. This will be increased to €10,036 in 2012, lifting 330,000 out of liability for this charge.
Other measures to be welcomed are the instalment facility available for the Household Charge and the fact that the following will be exempt from the Charge:
– Social housing, including voluntary and cooperative housing units;
– Stock owned by a Charity;
– Where a person is forced to leave their house due to long-term mental or physical
infirmity (elderly person that has moved into a nursing home)
– Those on Mortgage Interest Supplement.
The delay in the implementation of the Carbon Tax increase for home heating until May 2012 and the exemption for solid fuels are also measures that are welcome.
Calls for help to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul have increased substantially in the past year and the SVP anticipate an even further jump in those calls as the full impact of Budget 2012 takes effect in the New Year.