'My biggest concern is VAT going up'
My budget:“James” asked to remain anonymous for this article, as his wife did not want the family’s financial difficulties to be publicly identified. He is self-employed.
“I work in building and landscape gardening. About three years ago, people got really bad with paying their bills. When times were better, it didn’t matter not being paid for months, but when things got tougher, it did.
“There were big jobs I did that I didn’t get paid for at all. One was for €35,000. That was for materials, labour, paying the lads who worked with me. I eventually got one cheque for €2,500.
“Our child got very ill two years ago and had to be hospitalised. We almost lost her. It was very traumatic. My wife did not want to go back to work afterwards. She wasn’t mentally in a position to do so, and I couldn’t argue with that. When our child was ill, we just didn’t open the envelopes. Envelopes from banks weren’t a priority. Our child was the only priority. When we finally opened them, most of the envelopes were around our mortgage payments.
“We bought our house in 2005. It cost €450,000, once we had extended it. The repayments were €1,700 a month, and the term was 30 years.
“The landscaping business was really hit when we had the snow, and then the floods. Some people didn’t pay either.
“We took a moratorium on our mortgage for six months. Then we rang them again. In fairness, Ulster Bank were great. Because I’m self-employed, I don’t have a guaranteed fixed income each month, and they worked with us around that. We are now paying a reduced mortgage of €1,200 a month.
“I’m self-employed, and there is little to zero help for anyone who is self-employed. I’ve never claimed social welfare and I’m proud of that, but pride doesn’t pay the bills.
My biggest concern around the budget is VAT going up. That will make it more expensive for people to get their gardens down. There isn’t one thing I’m afraid of in the budget. It’s a whole load of cumulative things that all add up.”