A single parent on the budget: ‘My shopping has gone up from €40 to €60, so that €12 is already well gone’

Budget 2023: Fuel allowance of €400 welcome, as are three €200 energy allowances

Single parent
Tracy Hayde (38), Thurles, Co Tipperary

Single mother Tracy Hayde is happy with increases in child benefit and an allowance towards energy costs in the budget but says “it is not going to help me with all the bills on a daily basis”.

The increase in social welfare “is not going to go far, it’s not enough, it’s a kind of a piecemeal offering, they are trying, but it isn’t going to go far because the prices of everything have gone up — my shopping has gone up from €40 to €60 so that €12 is already well gone.”

The €400 lump sum fuel allowance is also welcome and she plans on spending this on heaters for her rented home where she and her eight-year-old daughter Ruby live as part of the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) as she cannot access its oil tank and open fire.

“It will go towards my electricity charges because I’ll probably have to be using heaters to heat my house, otherwise we have no heat.”

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Three energy allowances of €200 will also help: “I’d say if I am using heaters then my electricity charges will be quite high, one heater in my living room doesn’t heat it at all, so I’ll probably need two in there over the winter, and I’ll be bringing more around the bedrooms.”

High childcare costs, as well as ill-health, have combined to keep Ms Hayde out of work, however she says the proposed cut in childcare costs may help put her back on the road to employment.

“Overall, there is some good positive benefits but they are not long-term solutions,” she says.

The waiver on primary school book fees next year “is a good thing as it reduces my costs for next year; I was paying €98 last year for schoolbooks” and it will allow her to use the “back-to-school allowance for a uniform and shoes. The extra money might even help me buy more heaters.”

A Christmas bonus payment and increase in child benefit will both “come in very handy as my daughter needs some new clothes” and the extension of free contraception for women aged 30 and under “is also a good thing, but it doesn’t really apply to people my age, but it should be free to all”.

The proposed reduction in public transport charges will encourage her to leave the car at home, particularly when she has to attend specialist medical appointments in Dublin, a distance of 146km from her home.

“If the train fares were reduced I would probably travel more often on public transport to my appointments because it can cost me up to €50 to travel on the train. For the short-term the budget is okay, but for the long term not so much. They will have to introduce more measures to keep up with the cost of living.”