I know it’s last week’s news but the impact of Budget 2018 is set to have serious implications, especially if you’re someone who’s missing out on hundreds of euro a year on your State pension due to a change implemented in Budget 2011 (for 2012) by then Social Protection Minister Joan Burton when she shifted the eligibility rules, making it hard for many to secure a full State ‘contributory’ amount.
This unjust reality, (which I’ll try to explain; but it’s a head-wrecker) was already flagged by an Age Action report when it conveyed that under these changes, a staggering 36,000 people have already had their State pensions cut.
You see, according to the ‘old system’, the government used four ‘contributory bands’ to calculate what people would be receiving; and as a ‘contributory band’ calculates the amount you get based on how long and how much you’ve paid into your pension over the years, the 2012 implementation of another two bands served to vastly change the rules, negatively impacting what many are now collecting; which, in a lot of cases is just 85 per cent of the maximum payment.
And so, as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has neglected to tackle and fix this unfair consequence, many voters, (a lot of them women, now in their autumn years) are being financially discriminated against for temporarily leaving the workforce to raise families with many, at the time, being prejudicially forced to leave jobs due to that stupid marriage bar rule. They now find themselves being punished by the State’s ‘system.’ Are ya with me so far?
Now, with the Department of Social Protection’s bean counters estimating an approximate cost of €60 million to revert to the former system, it was actually my own understanding that The Homemakers’ Scheme had addressed these gaps in employment by providing a disregard for those of us (men and women) who took time out of the workforce to raise our families; however it now appears it only provides for periods from 1994 onwards.
Okay, but here’s the thing – while we all focused on the finer details of last week’s ‘sunbed and sugar tax’ Budget, something else really irked me, which I deem as being a very sneaky stroke directly concerning Leo Varadkar’s spin-shop. And yes, I know he’s calling it the ‘strategic communications unit,’ but I don’t deal in bulls**t. You see, with all the brilliance of Harry Arter’s skilful step-over in setting up James McClean’s goal for Ireland against Wales last week, friend-of-the-early-riser Leo sold us a right dummy when he hawked his spin-shop as a “cost neutral” initiative. Now stay with me here folks…being that ‘cost neutral’ is a method whereby implementing a project for the purposes of audit means any loss or gain would balance each other out; and… if Department staff were being re-deployed to facilitate said spin-shop, why did Paschal set aside a whopping €5 million slush fund out of our money to bankroll it? Devious or wha’?
Now this little quango…yes, that’s what it is…makes me question if our Leo can actually talk the talk and walk the walk, because, if he can, why would he need a personal communications outfit as a crutch? Wouldn’t that €5 million be better spent on restoring these pension cuts, or on reducing the HSE’s savage waiting lists?
It seems to me that ‘people’s pal’ Leo and his merry men and women have clearly placed image before taxpayers’ needs, vanity before the sick and elderly, egotism before the homeless, and pretension before the squeezed middle; making it evident this self-professed ‘new sharing’ government undeniably missed the mark when they underhandedly snatched that €5 mill from necessitous voters.
Why Click & Collect just isn’t for me!
Most people I know consider the virtual experience of retail therapy as an essential part of their day. However, as someone who likes to support local businesses, and who enjoys interacting with another human being, I prefer the good old bricks and mortar approach and avoid shopping online; and I have a feeling that the lovely Chairperson of Roscommon Tidy Towns Kathleen Shanagher, who is quoted in this newspaper saying she’d, “heard retailers saying people are going into their shops…trying on clothes…dirtying their clothes…” would agree with me.
Personally I’ve got no time for anyone who walks into a struggling local boutique for the sole purpose of squeezing their sweaty body into a carefully selected pristine item of clothing, (or sometimes several items) hangs it back up and cheekily walks out and orders it from a large online store or business-to-customer emporium it’s unfair. Now I’m all for teaching everyone computer literacy, but come on readers, online shopping is killing the very heartbeat of our local communities, i.e. the little boutique, the quaint bookshop or the family-run electrical outlet, etc., where real live humans offer advice, pass the time of day with you and where personal service is key. And, what I find especially worrying is that as Ireland is at an early stage of this virtual retail revolution, things are going to get worse. So, if anyone honestly wants to know who’s killing off rural businesses, I suggest they take a look at the man (or woman) in the mirror, and er, change their ways.