‘€42 a month? You could spend more on a dinner in the city’: Young adults underwhelmed by budget

Budget 2023: Cohort welcomes third-level fee reduction and tax credit for renters but is disappointed overall

A tax credit for renters and a reduction in third-level fees were among the budget measures welcomed by students and graduates, although many young people interviewed by The Irish Times described themselves as underwhelmed by Budget 2023 overall.

For Grace Tierney (26), who works full-time, the “most directly applicable measure” is the tax credit for renters.

Under the plans, tenants that do not get any other housing support will qualify for a €500 rent tax credit which will apply in 2023 and subsequent years, bringing the value of the measure to €1,000. An individual can claim one credit per year.

“Obviously something is better than nothing, but it works out at €42 per month, which is nothing. You could spend more than that on a dinner in the city. I appreciate they’ve tried to do something, but do I think it’s had much of an impact? Not really. Most of my peers are spending more than half their income on rent, so it doesn’t really cut it,” Ms Tierney said.


Ms Tierney welcomed the Government’s commitment to extend the free contraception scheme for women from 16 up to 30 years of age from September 1st, 2023. The scheme was originally for women aged 17 to 25.

This could see savings of up to €470 on the cost of prescription contraception including contraceptive implant or injection.

“The cost-of-living measures are semi-encouraging in that it indicates the Government is taking the temperature of the moment, but personally I’m not sure that young people have much faith in the Government right now,” she said.

Under the new budget, every household is to receive three €200 electricity credits. Donagh Ruane (25), who works full-time and studies part-time, said he and his housemates were “going out of our way to conserve energy but we’re worried we’ll be annihilated this winter”.

He was critical of the plan because there will be no windfall tax on energy companies yet. Likewise, rent credits were helpful but “no good to thousands of people who can’t find an affordable place to live in the first place”.

“Every little helps but none of it incentivises the people who are causing the problems – landlords and energy companies – to reduce prices instead of increasing them,” he said.

“Minimum wage is also still below living wage, which is a joke, and affects a lot of young people. Even people on living wage are barely keeping their head above water now.”

Caolán Walsh (26), a full-time worker who rents in Raheny, Dublin, shared a similar view, saying: “I don’t foresee any of these measures as long-term solutions to the ongoing housing crisis that is leaving renters to be exploited. What would help young people is more housing, end of… There’s just very few affordable places to live.”

While students have broadly welcomed a cut in third-level fees by €1,000 under the new budget, some felt “left behind”.

Laura Dowling (27), a third-year graduate entry medicine (GEM) student at University College Dublin, said she was “very disappointed” that those in her course “won’t be eligible for the same grants as other students”.

GEM students are those who have begun a medical degree having already secured a separate undergraduate degree before sitting the graduate medical school admissions test exams and beginning medicine as a postgraduate.

Fees have increased year on year since 2017 for such students and now stand at €16,290 for Irish students and €55,140 for non-EU students.

“A reduction in EU fees and a doubling of SUSI grants is very well received for those pursuing their first undergraduate degree, but not for us. We’re not eligible for grants and the Bank of Ireland loan formerly available to us has been discontinued. The whole idea of this course was to make this career more accessible but it’s still just as expensive. Now those on lower income are totally excluded,” Ms Dowling said.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times