Lucy is parenting alone with two children aged 8 and 10.
She works part-time in a supermarket, fitting her hours around school times. She earns the National Minimum Wage, so she is pleased she will get 80c more an hour from January, however this increase will not bring the payment up to a Living Wage, and with inflation her wages won’t stretch as far as they used to. She will receive an increase in the Jobseekers Transitional Payment but because the earning disregard hasn’t changed she will lose out as her wages increase.
Inflation levels are higher for people on low incomes as they spend more of their budget on the essentials that are getting more expensive, and Lucy has really struggled over the last year with the rising cost of electricity, gas, and food.
Lucy will get the three €200 electricity credits that every household in Ireland will get. This will be a lifeline, as she is only just about coping with bills over the summer while the heating hasn’t even been on, and this meant she really struggled with back to school costs as she didn’t have spare money to put aside. Lucy will get a double Child Benefit payment and €400 in a one-off Fuel Allowance. This is a relief as she knows it will go towards the first heating bill and help pay off some the debt she has built up. But when these one-off payments are gone on bills and other essentials, they are gone and Lucy will be struggling even more as the cost continue to rise.
Lucy is in private rented housing and has to pay a €50 top up to her Landlord alongside paying the Local Authority. She has missed a payment to the Local Authority as she didn’t have enough money and prioritised paying her Landlord as she was worried about being evicted if she falls behind. But if she doesn’t clear her arrears to the Local Authority, they won’t carry on paying the Landlord. She could use some of the lump sum payments to pay for this but that’s leave her short on other areas.
As there wasn’t action to invest in homeless prevention including a special fund to address rent arrears for those at risk of losing their home, Lucy will have to cut back in other areas to pay the Local Authority back as soon as possible. Lucy won’t benefit for the two €500 rent credits as it is not available to HAP tenants. In the meantime, she is worried about being evicted. SVP has called for the government to take action to protect renters through increasing HAP levels and giving greater security to tenants in order to prevent homelessness.