What Budget 2021 Has to Offer Young People and University Students

Christine O'Mahony

It’s that time of the year again, The Budget!! With the economy facing some difficulties due to the Covid19 pandemic, thankfully young people and students were thought about during the drafting.

In fact, the Taoiseach and government were accused of trying to “woo” young voters, something the Taoiseach strongly denies.

First on the agenda, is public transport. Many young people and adults have been complaining about the cost of public transport.

When you compare Ireland to other countries, Irish public transport is quite expensive. In Belgium, France, Scotland and other countries, one can buy an all-day travel ticket which costs less, compared to here.

However, the budget will offer young people aged between 18-23, 50% of public transport. This is great news, but many students, especially mature students (23+) will be missing out on discounted travel.

As accommodation is simply unaffordable, many rural students have re-joined the commuter life. 50% off public transport should be open to all individuals who hold a student card.

For those who rely on a car to transport themselves to college, the price of petrol will be increasing. It will be €1.30 more for cars that rely on petrol and €1.50 more for those that rely on diesel. While this is an attempt to do more for climate change, it could put some, at a disadvantage.

For women aged 17-25, the Budget offers them free contraception from August. The budget also aims to tackle period poverty.

This is great news, but there has been a public debate that it should be extended for all ages and not just women.

The Budget, in it’s drafting forgets about the Trans community and boys/men who should be practicing safe sex. There is no harm, offering free condoms to boys of all ages.

Minister Mary Butler, has said that introducing free contraception to people under the age of 17, could cause “legal challenges”.

Emma Hendrick, the People Before Profit rep for Tallaght South, wrote on Twitter: “So is free contraception only the pill? The pill doesn’t prevent STDs. Condoms, IUDs Bars, etc., should all be free as contraception. Contraception is not just about preventing pregnancy. People over 25 also have sex!”.

The eligibility for the SUSI grant had been expanded. One can rely on SUSI as long as your gross income is around the €41,000 mark. The SUSI grant has also increased by €200. Minimum wage has increased by 30c per hour, with workers earning around €10.50 per hour.

The €250 contribution scheme for 3rd level will be abolished and the €200 levy to take part in a PLC course will also be scrapped. Some positive moves for those who face financial difficulties.

Many students were outraged by the price of cigarettes increasing to 50c per 20 pack, however the Irish Cancer Society has deemed this a “welcome move” and looked at it as an “effective measure to reduce smoking”.

Social Welfare Payments will increase by €5 and there will be a €10 increase in ‘Back to School’ allowances. Funding of €23 million has been secured for a range of areas in Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s department, which includes youth services, equality and inclusion, disability, Mother and Baby homes actions, Refugee and Migrant integration; Traveller and Roma initiatives and for the adoption authority.

The College View, spoke to 22-year-old, Maynooth University Finance graduate, Iqura Naseem on what she thought of the Budget.

“The budget doesn’t go far enough for young people who need to afford a house, electricity or petrol. As somebody who is disabled, I am not happy that the disability allowance only went up by €5. People are receiving more on the PUP. Funding for the disability sector shouldn’t just go to disability services, it should go to disabled people”.

22-year-old Carlow College student, Brian Crehan, told The College View, “I felt as though it was a step in the right direction. Didn’t go far enough but maybe that’s down to Covid? Hopefully as our debt from covid reduces in the next year, we can have a more impactful budget in terms of reducing the cost of living for young people. I do think the 50% off travel card is amazing, especially as a student commuting”.

The Minister for Finance, Pascal Donohoe, speaking on the budget said: “For those worried about whether they can own a home or afford their rent, this budget will support you! And for businesses looking to the future, this budget will back you!”.

It can be seen, while there are some great positives in this budget, it doesn’t go far enough for many.

As others have alluded, this could be down to Covid19. It remains to be seen whether this budget will help young people and students who are trying to afford accommodation.

Christine O’Mahony 

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