Five ways your pay cheque will go further this month
If you pay tax, have children, get the state pension or earn the minimum wage you should be in line for a (little) January bonus
Parents will get an extra €5 per child in their child benefit payment today, which is paid on the first Tuesday of the month.
You haven’t been paid since mid-December, your bank account is empty, and the only sweets left in the Roses tin are the coffee ones no-one likes.
But don’t despair. If you’re in the mood for some new year cheer, you could consider what impact changes made in last October’s Budget might have on your bank balance this month.
Yes the changes, which kick off today with a €5 increase in child benefit hitting bank accounts all around the country, won’t significantly affect your standard of living, but as Tesco is wont to say, “every little helps”.
So what are some of the changes you can look forward to this year?
If you pay income tax
The biggest change made in last October’s budget was to cut the rate of the universal social charge (USC). This means everyone liable to the charge (those earning more than €13,000) will stand to benefit in this month’s pay cheque, although those with income of €70,044 or more will still pay the higher rate of USC at 8 per cent on their income above this level.
The move means that a single person earning €30,000 a year will be better off to the tune of €25 in their January pay-check, or by €302 over the course of 2016.
A married couple with one spouse earning €100,000 will be better off by €75 come their next pay day, or by €902 over the year, while a married couple earning €150,000 with both spouses working will have an extra €150 to spend this month, or €1,804 over the year.
If you earn the minimum wage
The first people who will reap the rewards of last year’s budget changes are those who are paid weekly. And if you’re earning the minimum wage, you should see this kick in from later this week.
From January 1st, the minimum hourly wage increased by 50 cent from €8.65 to €9.15 in a move whcih is expected to benefit about 124,000 workers. This means that someone working a 39 hour week will see their wages increase to €357 a week, up from €337.35 previously. Over a month, the employee will be better off to the tune of about €75.
The coming year may also see more pressure on employers to offer their workers more than the minimum wage. Last year for example, supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl said they would offer their Irish staff a “living wage” of €11.50 an hour. The increase at Aldi will come into effect from February, while Lidl employees have been enjoying the higher rate since last November.
If you’re 66 or over
It may just about cover the cost of a cup of coffee, and was disregarded in some quarters when it was first announced, but in the bleakness of January, many pensioners will still welcome the €3 weekly increase in the state pension, bringing their payment up to €233.30.
Over the course of a year, it will put €156 back into the pockets of pensioners, and those due payments on the back on a spouse’s pension will also benefit. The rate for a so-called qualified adult under 66 for example, will go up by €2 a week, or by €2.70 a week for those aged 66 and over.
If you have children
Parents are set to benefit on a number of fronts this year.
Firstly, child benefit will increase by €5 this month up to €140 per child per month. So, a family with three children will stand to gain an extra €15 a month.
Parents of under-fours will benefit from an extra free pre-school year from September, To benefit from the extra year, children must be aged at least three years and two months by the start of September.
Finally, those planning a baby in the near future will enjoy state paternity leave for the first time. The measure, which will give fathers €230 a week for up to two weeks, will come into force on September 1st 2016 for children born after this date.
And finally, while the under 6s have been enjoying free GP care since last summer, the Government has also pledged to extend this to all children under 12 years of age, pending negotiations with the Irish Medical Organisation.
If you drive a car
It’s not related to the budget, but falling oil prices are keeping inflation low and market commentary suggests that there will be no significant recovery for oil prices into 2016. Indeed US investment bank Goldman Sachs has forecast that the cost of a barrel of oil could plummet to just $20 on oversupply concerns, down from
While a significant chunk of the cost of petrol at the pump goes to the Exchequer in the form of taxes, Irish drivers should continue to benefit from the softening of oil prices.
According to Pumps.ie for example, you can now fill your car with diesel for as little as 104.9c a litre, or 118.8 cent for petrol.